Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pay It Forward

My wife, son and I went on an outing at Little Talbot Island this afternoon.  We walked two miles down a scenic and shady trail which eventually led to the seashore.  From there, it was about another two miles to traverse the beach and get back to where we had parked our van.  Just a few hundred feet from where we had started our walk along the seashore, we came upon an man who was taking a break from fishing.  There was little foot traffic and we couldn't help but ask the obvious question:

"Have you caught anything today?

"No.  My friend caught a lot of them of them earlier today when the tide was low.  Now, it's my turn to feed the rest of them" he replied with a smile.

 The way he answered that question made me want to stay and chat for a bit.  He introduced himself as Brad.  He wore a Florida Gators baseball cap, a teeshirt with "MAINE" on the front, shorts and a pair of surfing shoes.  He appeared to be in his late sixties or older.  He had a cart with two gray, wide over inflated tires which carried four long fishing reels and a cooler.  A few feet away was his fold out camping chair.  A gust of wind toppled the chair.  Before we could upright it, he said to just leave it - it had already been blown over several times.  As he baited the hooks and was taking a breather, he began to share a little about himself.

As we talked about our walk and what a lovely day it was, he mentioned that he comes here regularly and that every day - doing this [fishing] is a fantastic day.  He said that he was diagnosed 7 years ago with MS;  although he has to take medications, thus far he has not been confined to a wheel chair and is still mobile.

He asked us, "Have you seen the movie, Pay It Forward?"

"A portion, but not the whole movie", I replied

"Well", he said, "I have a plan for this cart" he explained.

"There is another man who comes to this location on the beach - a black gentleman in his 80's - who is my friend.  He also has a challenge in his life - cancer.  I have seen him come out here to fish during high tide in waders - carrying a fishing pole in each hand along with  his bait and equipment." he shared

Brad looked off into the distance for a second and then continued. "I have told him that when my time comes to sit in the [wheel] chair, this cart will be his".

"Do you know what he said?" he asked us.  He said, "Then I hope you never have to give it to me, my friend".

"Anyway", he continued, "that's my way of paying it forward"

We talked briefly about everything from seashells (he's looking for a whole sand dollar to give to a friend who is going through a tough time) to some of his experiences/background as a teacher/trainer with R J Reynolds, Nabisco.  His outlook was so positive!  I wish we could have stayed with him for at least an hour - I wanted to hear more.  We talked about just enjoying "now".  He talked fondly about his wife - "I have the degrees, but she's the smart one!  She has so much common sense".  He said, "Love is not all of this romantic stuff you see depicted in movies, books etc.  Love is down to earth and practical - like noticing your partner is out of toothpaste  and placing a new tube there for her/him.  My wife has taught me that and so much more".

We said farewell and I will not forget his parting words to us,

"See you here again next year!"

As I continued to walk along the shore and he faded from view, I whispered my prayers for Brad and his wife.  I also thanked the Lord for this diversion from my own concerns - which always seem so big until you see them in light of what really matters temporally and eternally.

Today's recommended resource is ... us!  Be on the lookout for creative ways to "pay it forward".  We have been blessed to, in turn, be a blessing to others.

(I will add some links with some ideas in a few days)

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