Parables

Important Life Lessons

1. – The Cleaning Lady

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:  ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?’

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times.. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

‘Absolutely,’ said the professor.. ‘In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.’

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. – Pickup In the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached..

It read:

‘Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away… God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.’

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 – Always Remember Those Who Serve

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

‘How much is an ice cream sundae?’ he asked.

‘Fifty cents,’ replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

‘Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?’ he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and

the waitress was growing impatient.

‘Thirty-five cents,’ she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

‘I’ll have the plain ice cream,’ he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.  There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 – The Obstacle In Our Path

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway.  Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.  Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.   After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 – Giving When It Counts

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital. I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, ‘Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.’ As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, ‘Will I start to die right away?’

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister ALL of his blood in order to save her but he had chosen to save her anyway.

6 – Carrots, Eggs & Coffee

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee… You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ‘ Tell me what you see.’

‘Carrots, eggs, and coffee,’ she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, ‘What does it mean , mother?’

Her mother explained that! each of these objects had faced the same

adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

‘Which are you?’ she asked her daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?

Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff ? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

7 – Have Faith When Your Hut Is On Fire

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, ‘God! How could you do this to me?’ Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island! It had come to rescue him! ‘How did you know I was here?’ asked the weary man of his rescuers. ‘We saw your smoke signal,’ they replied.