• Rev. Mark Tews

The Gift of Giving

Two men, both seriously ill, occupy the same hospital room. One was man was allowed each afternoon to sit up for about an hour to drain fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men often talked for hours about their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, prior military service, where they had been raised, etc. Every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window sat up he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods when his world would be broadened beyond the dreary hospital room to the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Couples walked arm in arm amidst the colorful flowers and a panoramic view of the city skyline could be seen off in the distance. As the man by the window would describe all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene. One afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn’t hear the band he saw it all through the description being given by his friend in the other bed.

Days and weeks passed by. One morning, the day nurse arrived bringing water for their baths and found the man by the window had died peacefully I his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the move, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside, only to find that the window faced only the blank wall of the building next door. The man called for the nurse and asked what could have compelled his deceased roommate to have described such wonderful things outside of a window that only faced a blank wall. The nurse explained to the man that she did not know exactly why the other man had done what he did, but the truth of the matter was that the man was blind and he himself couldn’t even see that it was just a blank wall. Perhaps, he just wanted to brighten your days.


There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite whatever your own circumstances may be. As the saying goes, “Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness, when it is shared is doubled.” If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy, and then – share the wealth.