Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Respecting Our Elders...

 “The Wooden Bowl Story”
Author: Unknown

An old man moved in with his son, daughter-in-law, and four year old grandson. The old man was in poor health, his eyesight was bad, and his hands trembled. When the family sat down to eat together, the grandfather’s shaky hands and bad eyesight made eating difficult. Food fell off his spoon, and when he drank from a glass, his drink spilled on the tablecloth. The son and his wife quickly became irritated with the old man. “We must do something about this mess” said the son. So they put a small table in the corner, where the grandfather would eat alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since he had broken some dishes before, he now ate from a wooden bowl. When the family looked at the old man, he would sometimes have a tear in his eye as he sat by himself. Still, the only time the family would talk to him is when they scolded him for making a mess. The four year old watched this treatment of his grandfather and said nothing.

One evening before dinner, the father noticed the little boy playing with wood scraps on the floor. The father asked his son what he was making. The boy responded “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up”. Smiling, the boy went back to playing with the wood scraps. The parents were speechless. They knew what had to be done. That evening, grandfather sat at the table during dinner. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family, and no one ever minded the mess on the tablecloth.

Lessons Learned
The initial treatment of the grandfather in this story embodies society’s growing trend of how elders are perceived. The parents in the story represent all of us while the old man signifies all the elderly.  In this story, it was only through the eyes of a child that the parents were able to realise their error in the way the grandfather was treated. The child represents the pure honest truth, which freed the parents to truly see life. Children are remarkably perceptive, and if they see us patiently provide a comfortable atmosphere for our older family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives.

ਮਾਂ ਪਿਉ ਪਰਹਰਿ ਕਰੈ ਦਾਨ ਬੇਈਮਾਨ ਅਗਿਆਨ ਪਰਾਣੀ ||
ਮਾਂ ਪਿਉ ਪਰਹਰਿ ਵਰਤ ਕਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਜੰਮੈ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਣੀ ||
ਗੁਰੁ ਪਰਮੇਸਰੁ ਸਾਰੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੀ ||੧੩||
"The person who having deserted their parents performs charities, is corrupt and ignorant. He who pushes away their parents undertakes fasts, goes on to wander in the cycle of births and deaths. That man (in fact) has not understood the essence of Guru and God.(13)"

(Bhai Gurdaas Jee, Vaar 37: Pauri 13)

1 comment:

Kaur said...

I like this story a lot and felt extremely sad when I was reading it. I don't know if it is just my family, but all wives have a problem with their mother in laws. My own mother acted terribly to my bibi ji, and in turn my bibi ji would slander my mom on the phone to random people I didn't even know. I was so angry with the both of them, and then one time my mom tried being nice to bibi ji. It worked out nicely, until one day my mom heard my bibi ji talking on the phone. She was saying horrible things about my mom, about how she does no work and always bosses my dad around....it was all wrong of course, but it permanently stained their relationship.

Even my mammi ji, she acts horrible to my other grandma as well. I don't understand it, but I am thankful to Guru Ji for showing me the effects of bad relationships. I have such a deep, profound respect for the elderly and I hate when others are rude to them. I wish I could do something about both my bibi ji's situation, but I can't. I do Ardaas to keep everyone good, and I rely on that to make sure everything is okay.

I hope more people from the younger generation are kind to their grandparents. If we think about this way, Guru Ji is in everyone. So when we act rudely to elderly people (or anyone in general), it is as if we are being rude to Guru Ji Himself! =o I think if we all realize this, we can control our anger and annoyance with elders and instead help those who have trouble in their old age. Even if others don't see our good deeds, Guru Ji always does.

Also, on a side note...grandparents are very fun to talk to! They are always sweet and kind and love telling stories. My papa ji used to tell me about his army days and we shared many laughs together! Just open your heart a little and you will gain a lot!