I Guarantee You will Remember the Parable of the Wooden Bowl Tomorrow, a Week from Now, a Month from Now, a Year from Now.
Parables have since time immemorial taught us thru the commonplace, and have sometimes changed us in surprising ways. And as we move towards a new year, what better time to reflect on who and what we are. Perhaps this gift of the parable of the Wooden Bowl may give us some pause, and provide a scintilla of the gift of Wisdom.
The Wooden Bowl
A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.
The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. ‘We must do something about father,’ said the son. ‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’ Just as sweetly, the boy responded, ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. ‘ The four-year-old smiled and went back to work…
The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.
[I am humbly grateful to my friend and colleague, Jean Francois, who shared this beautiful parable with me.]
We all need to reflect. I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and there is always the hope that it will be better tomorrow.
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles just four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
I’ve learned that having a good ‘living’ is not the same thing as having a good ‘life..’
I’ve learned that every mistake gives you a second chance to learn.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.
I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you But, if you focus on the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you. When you practice generosity, compassion, humility you’ve already given up the toxins that poison happiness.
I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart and mind, I usually make the right decision.
I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.
People love that human touch — holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back, or simply the touch of another’s appreciation and kind glance.
I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn; I’ve learned that for all I’ve learned I still know so very little.
I’ve learned that you should reflect on this parable of the wooden bowl, and practice compassion, non-judgmental presence, and unconditional love.
I’ve learned that Wisdom does not come from all the books I’ve read or the degrees I’ve received; it comes from sharing with a frail old person from a wooden bowl.
Pass this on to everyone you care about … I just did.