There was one old parable given by a Rabbi. That parable was called “The Rabbi and the Exceedingly Ugly Man.”
“On one occasion Rabbi Eleazer son of Rabbi Simeon was coming from Midgal Gedor, from the house of his teacher. He was riding leisurely on his donkey by the riverside and was feeling happy and elated because he had studied much Torah. Then he chanced to meet an exceedingly ugly man who greeted him, “Peace be upon you, rabbi” the man said. He, however, did not return his greeting but instead said to him, “Raca (empty one or good for nothing) how ugly you are! Is everyone in your town as ugly as you are?” The man replied; “I do not know but go and tell the craftsman who made me. How ugly is the vessel which you have made?” When Rabbi Eleazer realized that he had sinned he dismounted from the donkey and prostrated himself before the man and said to him, “I submit myself to you forgive me!”
You see, when the Rabbi encountered the ugly man all he could think about was that ugliness. When he made the unflattering remark, he did not see the man as created in the image of God. Conversely, the ugly man, perhaps because of life experiences, had come to realize the deeper significance of the creation of every human being, attractive or otherwise, has the divine image superimposed. Each person is made according to a plan by the master designer.
The scholar had the benefit of studying all day with a teacher, while, the unlearned laborer did not have the same opportunity. The educated man rode a donkey, while, the unlearned man walks. In other words, the opportunities available to the scholar in education and finances far exceeded that of the poorer man who had to work hard to make it.
Unfortunately, this scholar in the parable was me when I started at River of Life Mission 21 years ago. I think many people make the same mistake when viewing the less fortunate in our community. Prior to River of Life Mission, I had always supported other similar works. However, I never got personally involve in the lives of “such people.” Over, these many years, I have come to appreciate many of the guests that come to River of Life Mission. So many of them are gracious to me and my staff. I have come to see them as individual people. I realize that many have made some poor choices in life. Haven’t we all? But by the grace of God mine did not put me in their positions. It has been a privilege to labor among the homeless here in Honolulu.
However, all good things must come to an end. I have decided to retire. My wife and I will be moving to Lithia Springs, Georgia. My second born son lives there and wants us to be close by. The other boys have had us in their lives these past 21 years. On my last birthday I turned 81. I plan on taking some time to write and develop teachings to be used among my many students in Sri Lanka and India. I have used my vacation the last 21 years to teach and do seminars in Sri Lanka and India. I plan on keeping busy. I may even give growing tomatoes another shot.
It has been a great privilege to get to know so many of you (the faithful donors) over the years. I have always felt that the people of Hawaii were the most generous in the whole country.
The board has hired Paul Gates from California as my replacement. You will meet Paul in the next newsletter. I trust that you will give him the same support that you have given me these many years. Again, thank you and God bless you and you family.