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COMPASSION READINGS

Grandfather's Corner
From Grimm's Tales for Young and Old, trans. by Ralph Manheim © 1977 by Ralph Manheim, Published by Doubleday & Co., Inc.

Picture of old man

There was once a very old man, who was almost blind and deaf and whose knees trembled. When he sat at the table, he could hardly hold his spoon; he spilled soup on the tablecloth, and when he’d taken a spoonful some of it ran out of his mouth. His son and his son's wife thought it was disgusting and finally made the old man sit in a corner behind the stove. They brought him his food in an earthenware bowl and, worst of all, they didn’t even give him enough. He looked sadly in the direction of the table, and his eyes filled with tears. One day his hands trembled so much that he dropped his bowl and it fell to the floor and broke. The young woman scolded him, but he said nothing and only sighed. She bought him a wooden bowl for a few kreuzers, and from then on he had to eat out of it. As they were sitting there one day, the little four-year-old grandson was on the floor playing with some pieces of wood. "What are you doing?" his father asked. The child replied: "I am making a little trough for father and mother to eat out of when I am big."

Husband and wife looked at each other for a while and burst into tears. After that they brought the old grandfather back to the table. He ate with them from then on, and even when he spilled a little something they said nothing.

The Forgotten Ones
From a speech by Mother Teresa of Calcutta in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 1979
Full text

I never forget an opportunity I had in visiting a home where they had all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them in an institution and forgotten maybe. And I went there, and I saw in that home they had everything, beautiful things, but everybody was looking towards the door. And I did not see a single one with their smile on their face. And I turned to the Sister and I asked: How is that? How is it that the people they have everything here, why are they all looking towards the door, why are they not smiling? I am so used to see the smile on our people, even the dying one smile, and she said: This is nearly every day, they are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten, and see—this is where love comes. That poverty comes right there in our own home, even neglect to love… I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society—that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult. Our Sisters are working amongst that kind of people in the West.