The Old Man and the Bowl

I love to put the experience of fifty years at once into your young lives, to give you at once the key to that treasure chamber every gem of which has cost me tears and struggles and prayers, but you must work for these inward treasures yourselves.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811-1896,
American Writer


  13-15One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” After laying hands on them, he left.

Matthew 19:14

The Message (MSG)

Let’s take a look at this old Grimm’s tale.


The old man and his grandson

The old man and his grandson

The brothers Grimm – KHM 078

There was once a very old man, whose eyes had become dim, his ears dull of hearing, his knees trembled, and when he sat at table he could hardly hold the spoon, and spilt the broth upon the table-cloth or let it run out of his mouth. His son and his son’s wife were disgusted at this, so the old grandfather at last had to sit in the corner behind the stove, and they gave him his food in an earthenware bowl, and not even enough of it. And he used to look towards the table with his eyes full of tears. Once, too, his trembling hands could not hold the bowl, and it fell to the ground and broke. The young wife scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. Then they bought him a wooden bowl for a few half-pence, out of which he had to eat.
They were once sitting thus when the little grandson of four years old began to gather together some bits of wood upon the ground. “What are you doing there?” asked the father. “I am making a little trough,” answered the child, “for father and mother to eat out of when I am big.”

The man and his wife looked at each other for a while, and presently began to cry. Then they took the old grandfather to the table, and henceforth always let him eat with them, and likewise said nothing if he did spill a little of anything.


We learn from our parents, we learn it all, not just what they intend for us to learn.  As a teacher, I hear parents swearing at or in front of their children, then wonder why their children swear.  They often do not realize that they are even swearing.  As the FCC has relaxed regulations to reflect our “rights,” there are fewer good examples of speech for children to hear, including day time television, or prime time family television.

I hear parents admonishing their children in grocery stores, “the lady will yell at you.” Hoping that I or some other adult will do their job.  I hear them sharing intimate details too serious, or heavy for their little ears, and then asking them how they feel!

Jesus called the children to Him, he took them into his lap, he prayed with them, he loved them.  He spoke in front of large crowds that included families.  And ultimately, he lived the life he expected us to live, and then gave his life that we might live in the kingdom of heaven here  in heaven’s pre-school on earth, and beyond.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s words ring true with my own father’s.  We must learn from others mistakes, but most likely we will make a number of our own, and reap the rewards and lessons thereof.  I believe that the bowl will figure in some other stories this week, for it has a lot to say.

Because of Him,

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