What Goes Around, Comes Around
His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming saved.
‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son’s life.’
‘No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel.
‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked.
‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly.
‘I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.’ And that he did.
Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.
Years afterward, the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin…
The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill.
His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.
Someone once said: What goes around comes around.
When I read the last line, I thought of my dad. One of his favorite sayings was “When you give out to others it comes back double.” I have found that so true in my life and I’m sure that my brother, sister and their children have also found it true, for Dad, so often, shared and lived those words. It certainly has been true for our parish. Once again during Lent, our Project Starfish basket will be at the entrance of the church. This Lenten endeavor that began fifteen years ago with some $67,000 filling the basket in 1998, has grown to $510,000 last year. During these years we have received a half million dollars and have built 1,100 houses, drilled water wells, built a two story school, fed thousands, cared for lepers, built tilapia fish farms, and purchased five large fishing boats. In doing this, we have done something far more important,
we have changed hearts! And therein lies the blessing. The poor have changed us! Our outlook and attitudes have so changed our parish that our hearts, as a caring community, have gone out around the world ( Haiti, Cameroon, The Philippines (Sister Jean Mary’s House of Love and Mexico) – (The House of the Poor in Tijuana) as well as across the street – helping those needing temporary financial assistance because of serious illness and not able to meet everyday bills, to providing prayer shawls for the seriously ill that always are accompanied by the prayers of all in our community. By helping those around the world and across the street we are the ones who have been blessed many times over. We are known in the Diocese as the “caring parish.” Yes, how true the words – what goes around comes around.
As we journey through Lent, the story above is a practical reflection on going out of our way to help another. We might also recall the words of the writer Peter DeVries:
“We are not primarily put on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.”
Have a nice week!