Friday, January 11, 2013

Timeless Truths (Part 1) - A Cup of Cold Water

A Drink of Water

And whosoever shall give to drink
unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water
only in the name of a disciple,

verily I say unto you,

he shall in no wise lose his reward.

Matthew 10:42

What a vivid image illustrating the words of Jesus, spoken nearly 2000 years ago.

The picture above was the Wikimedia picture of the day for May 9, 2007.   It was a candidate for the "Picture of the year 2007" and is considered on the finest images in Wikimedia Commons.  The description:

U.S. Army Sergeant Kornelia Rachwal gives a young Pakistani girl a drink of water as they are airlifted from Muzaffarabad to Islamabad, Pakistan, aboard a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter on the 19 October 2005."  (reference:  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Giving a cup of cold water seems like a small thing, an insignificant act.  Yet, small acts of kindness speak volumes and can pay eternal dividends, especially during dark days.

From the countless acts of kindness, such as giving a cold cup of water, here are two examples from real life and fiction that stand out.

1. Schindler's List

World War Two was a dark time, and, during the Holocaust, offering a cup of cold water to the Jews or other outcasts was done at great peril.  In the movie, Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler did just this, right under the noses of the Nazis.

Throughout the book and the movie, in order to do business Oskar Schindler is continually bribing SS Officer Amon Goeth.  On one such occasion during a blistering summer day, a train of prisoners heading for the concentration camps rolls by them.  These kinds of people are seen by their oppressors as less than human and treated worse than animals - without food, water, and other necessities.

Yet, using his wits, Oskar maneuvers to have the hot cars hosed down and cooled while the prisoners are given water to drink.  Amon laughs at this act as a cruel joke, giving the condemned hope as everyone knows most - if any at all - would not survive long.  Yet, Oskar persists and bribes the NCO escort on the train to open the doors and give them drink when they stop along the way.

The first part of the clip below shows some of this scene.

The book, from which the movie was based, follows up on this scene with more detail.  Two of the prisoners on this transport, who survived the war, let Oskar know that the NCO did frequently order the doors open and had their water buckets filled.  Though most had perished, the water was a small comfort.  (reference:  Schindler's List, by Thomas Keneally, Chapter 29

What makes this story so remarkable is that it really happened, and this small act of kindness was done at great risk.  Though Oskar Schindler would be considered a backslidden Catholic - he was a womanizer, war profiteer, open fraternizer with the Nazis, he acted on the words of Jesus whereas more virtuous men lacked the courage to do so.

2.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This theme of small acts of kindness in dark times runs throughout the works of  Victor Hugo.  His novels  interweave godly acts of light on the dark background of a mad world.

In The Hunchback of Notre Dame,  the denizens gawk at a deformed man, considered less than human, who was flogged and tortured to satisfy a perverted sense of justice in 15th century France.  But the gypsy girl Esmeralda gives Quasimodo a drink of water while better men do nothing.

Esmeralda.  Quasimodo.  Both are outcasts. Again, this small kindness of one outcast to another speaks volumes.

A clip of the scene below is from the silent film version of the movie - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) .

Today, another of Victor Hugo's novels, Les Miserables (2012), is on the big screen as a musical.  And a turning point is an act of kindness by the bishop of Digne, which forever changes Jean Valjean.

Big doors swing on little hinges.
- W. Clement Stone (1902 - 2002)

So the course of  history or the saving of a life can be changed by a small act of kindness.

This leads to a new thread -

Timeless Truths

- where the ancient proverbs and wisdom will be shown how they still apply throughout the ages.

And what better way to end the first part of this new thread with these timeless words:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand for ever.


Previous posts on similar topics:

ZAMM (part 6) - Sloth, or just not caring ...  (2012)

Anastasis (part 5) - Bible in the Oxyrhynchus garbage dump  (2012)


Photo from:  Wikipedia - Humanitarian Aid

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