Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Spiritual - Carl

I have shared this before, but it has been over a year.
Such a touching story and testimony.
I hope you enjoy it.


Please take the time to
this.  I wanted to hurry up and read it, but God slowed
me down
and I read the whole thing.  Guess what, God does what
God always
does, he blessed me and now it is your turn to be

Carl was a
quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always
you with a big smile and a firm handshake.

Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, No one could really say they knew him very well.
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking  down the street often worried us.

He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII.

Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may
not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its
ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for
caring for the gardens behind the ministers residence, he
responded in his characteristically unassuming manner.
Without fanfare, he just signed up.

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always
feared finally happened.He was just finishing his watering for the
day when three gang members approached him.  Ignoring their
attempt to intimidate him, he simply asked, "Would you like a drink
from the hose?"

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said,  "Yeah,
sure," with a malevolent little smile.                 

As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two grabbed
Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily
over the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's
assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and
then fled. Carl tried to get himself up,
but he had been thrown down on his bad leg. He lay
there trying to gather himself as the minister came
running to help him.
Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window,
he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it. "Carl, are you okay?
Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to
his feet.
Carl just passed a hand over
his brow and sighed,
shaking his head. "Just some punk
kids. I hope they'll wise-up

His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water. Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"                  

"Ive got to finish my watering. Its been very dry lately," came the  calm reply.

Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could only marvel. Carl was a man from a different
time and place.A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose.

This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and drenched him head to foot in the icy water.

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just  done.

Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked up his hose,
and went on with his watering.

The summer was quickly fading into fall Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the  sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches.
As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down
for him. He braced himself for the expected attack."Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time."

The young man spoke softly, still offering the tattooed and scarred hand to  Carl. As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket and handed it to Carl.

"Whats this?" Carl asked.
"Its your stuff," the man explained. "Its your stuff back. Even the money in your wallet" 
"I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease.
"I learned something from you," he said. "I ran with that gang
and hurt people like you we picked you because you
were old and we knew we could do it But every time we came
and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting
back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for
hating you. You kept showing love against our hate."

He stopped for a moment. "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back."

He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there
was to say. "That bags my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And with that, he walked
off down the street.
 Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He took
out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist.
Opening his wallet, he checked for his wedding photo.
He gazed for a moment at the young bride that still smiled
back at him from all those years ago.
He died one cold day afterChristmas that winter. Many people attended his funeral in
spite of the weather.In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know
sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church.

The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life.

In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."
The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to care for
Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners
until one day when a knock was heard at the ministers office  door.
Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and
tattooed hands holding the flyer. "I believe this is my job, if you'll
have me," the young man said.

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the
stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this mans life
around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed, he
said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he
tended  the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had

During that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of
the community. But he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and
kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept  it.

One day he approached the new
minister and told him that he
couldn't care for the garden
any longer. He explained with a shy and
happy smile, "My wife just had a baby boy last night, and shes bringing
him home on Saturday."
"Well, congratulations!" said
the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys.
"That's wonderful! Whats the baby's name?"
"Carl," he replied.                   


1 comment:

watercolors said...

What a precious story.

Been blessed.

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