Sunflower and a Frog
--by JZ, posted Feb 23, 2008
He took it out from around his neck and leaned down a bit, his eyes looking straight into mine. "Would you mind?" he asks. Looking at him through his eye glasses, I smile and say, "Of course not, Lee. It would be an honor." And with that, I was garlanded -- probably for the first time in my life -- with a simple necklace.
Lee is the epitome of a happy-go-lucky guy. He used to be a trucker, I think. If there were one word to describe him, it would be happy. Or joyous. And what a pure heart. In one of those fits of unadulterated compassion, he just felt like giving me something. So he takes off his own necklace and offers it to me.
It was far from an ordinary necklace. In a small town of Oregon, Lee met a Japanese-American fellow selling small hand-made, glass items. While conversing with him, he realized that the Japense-American guy was an engineer. "Then, why are you blowing glass?" Lee asked him. "Well, my father is dying of Leukemia and there is no one to take care of him, so I gave up my career and moved here. And in this small town, there are no engineering jobs, so I learned how to blow glass." Touched by his sincerity, Lee picked up a round glass piece with a sunflower embeded inside and a fun, frog-like caricature transplanted on the front. Attached to a blueish-green string, this piece stayed around Lee's neck until our little encounter.
While we were talking, I told him a story of how I was once fed by a homeless man. "You see, Lee, I have this strange suspicion that no one is really poor. If you have kindness in your heart, if you offer whatever you have, you have won the world," I said. Something about the way that statement came out -- Lee just gave me the most precious thing he had in that moment. Just like that.
Generally, you might feel odd receiving a precious gift like that but this just felt natural. Both of us were elated with our encounter.
Lee is quite a guy. He'll buy basketballs for inner-city kids, he'll write cards to cheer people up, he'll give his neighbors honey from the bees that he nurtures in his basement (Lee loves bees!). He'll even go stay with the homeless. One time, when he was living in a ghetto for some time, someone stole his laundry basket at a local laundromat. So he goes and buys another one, but when that gets stolen too, he went out and bought a dozen of them and would leave one in the laundromat everyday! After about a week, the baskets stopped getting stolen, people loosened their fears about guarding their laundry basket, and that little corner of the world was restored with trust.
That's the kind of guy Lee is. Unassuming, happy, giving, creative, and pure-hearted. When he garlands me with a necklace, it isn't a necklace anymore. It's a blessing.
Thank you, Lee!
You have found gem of a person in this friend and as you said its a blessing.
Always! Acts of love should not be dishonored, but should be honored.
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