There’s a story of a frail old man who lived with his son, daughter-in-law and 4 year old grandson. Age had worn on him… his hands tremble… his eyesight was blurred… his steps were unsteady. They ate together at the table. Eating was difficult for the old man because of his eyesight and trembling hands. Peas would roll of his spoon. His shaky hands often spilled his milk on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess to the point they finally said, We must do something about Grandfather. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk… noisy eating and food on the floor.
So… they set a small table in the corner. There grandfather would eat alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two in the past, his food was now served in a wooden bowl. When they glanced at him, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he ate alone. The only words spoken to him were sharp criticisms as he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The 4-year old grandson watched in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. Puzzled he asked, What are you making? The young boy cheerfully answered, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up and you grow old.
Tears started to roll down the man’s cheeks. 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 the husband nor the wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped… milk was spilled… or a pea was found on the floor.
What does it take to wake us up to how we are treating one another?