Kathy Poe and Esther Kim were best friends. They were also competing to represent the US in taekwondo at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Working through separate sides of the draw they both made it to the final of the Olympic trials. Whichever of them won would go to the Games. Poe however dislocated her knee in the previous match and couldn’t compete. Then came an incredible act of friendship. Knowing her friend’s knee would be healed by the Games Esther Kim forfeited the match and her spot on the Olympic team.
“You will have the gold medal around your neck and I feel inside I have a gold medal in my heart,” she said. “There are other ways to be a champion. A real martial artist is a champion everyday in life, too.”
In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a little boy whose sister needed a blood transfusion. She had a rare blood type which she shared with her little brother. The fact that he had recovered from the same disease two years earlier made the chances of success even greater. The doctor carefully explained all this to the little boy, pointing out that without the transfusion his sister would die.
“Would you be brave and give your blood to your sister?” the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated. His lower lip began to tremble. Then he smiled and said, “Sure, for my sister.” The two children were wheeled into the hospital room – Mary, pale and thin; Johnny, robust and healthy. He smiled at his sister, the watched as the blood travelled out of his body, down the clear plastic tube. Johnny’s smile faded, and as he lay there feeling weak he looked up at the doctor and said, “Doctor, when do I die?’
Johnny thought that giving his blood to his sister meant giving up his life. Yet because of his great love for her he was prepared to pay the price.
Source: quote excerpted from Robert Coleman, Written in Blood.
Once upon a time, in the heart of an ancient Kingdom, there was a beautiful garden. And there, in the cool of the day, the Master of the garden would walk. Of all the plants of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was gracious and noble bamboo. Year after year, bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master’s love and watchful delight, but modest and gentle withal. And often when the wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would dance and play, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance of the garden, which most delighted the Master’s heart.
Now, once upon a day, the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. And Bamboo, in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting.
The Master spoke: “Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use you.”
Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come, the day for which he had been made, the day to which he had been growing hour by hour, the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny.
His voice came low: “Master, I’m ready. Use me as you wish.”
“Bamboo,” The Master’s voice was grave “I would have to take you and cut you down!”
A trembling of great horror shook Bamboo…”Cut …me… down ? Me.. whom you, Master, has made the most beautiful in all thy Garden…cut me down! Ah, not that. Not that. Use me for the joy, use me for the glory, oh master, but do not cut me down!”
“Beloved Bamboo,” The Master’s voice grew graver still “If I do not cut you down, I cannot use you.”
The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There was a whisper: “Master, if you cannot use me other than to cut me down.. then do your will and cut”.
“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would cut your leaves and branches from you also”.
“Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust; but would you also have to take from me my leaves and branches too?”
“Bamboo, if I do not cut them away, I cannot use you.”
The Sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low: “Master, cut away”
“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would yet… split you in two and cut out your heart, for if I cut not so, I cannot use you.”
Then Bamboo bowed to the ground: “Master, Master… then cut and split.”
So did the Master of the garden took Bamboo…
and cut him down…
and hacked off his branches…
and stripped off his leaves…
and split him in two…
and cut out his heart.
And lifting him gently, the Master carried Bamboo to where there was a spring of fresh sparkling water in the midst of his dry fields. Then putting one end of the broken Bamboo in the spring and the other end into the water channel in the field, the Master gently laid down his beloved Bamboo… And the spring sang welcome, and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew and the harvest came.
In that day Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, was yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master’s world.
Source: Author Unknown.
Ahmed Shah was a famous ruler of Afghanistan.
The nation had been wracked by conflict among tribal leaders, but Shah brought peace. Legend has it Shah led the people to a secret valley that he had discovered on his travels, a vast plain, bordered on all sides by sheer cliff faces. To protect their new peaceful way of life it was imperative that no-one reveal the hidden passageway into the plain.
One day, Ahmed Shah was approached by a very nervous lieutenant. “Emir, we caught someone revealing the location of the secret passageway.” The traitor was Ahmed Shah’s mother!
Ahmed Shah was distraught. He could release Ahmed’s mother, kill the soldiers who captured her and hush the whole matter up by killing the guards who had captured her. But all chaos would break loose once word of this got out. Shah decided he would think it over during the night and announce his decision in the morning.
When morning arrived everyone gathered in the square. Ahmed announced his mother must receive a hundred lashes, which would almost certainly mean her death. Ahmed’s mother was marched into the square and bound.
The first two lashes already saw her bloodied and buckled. Ahmed could bear it no longer. He halted proceedings, untied his mother and carried her to his rooms.. He walked to his mother and untied her and carried her to his bed. Then emerging from his hut, he demanded that no-one move. He had something to say. He then addressed the crowd,
“The penalty for my mother’s crime was one hundred lashes. She has paid two of them. I will pay the other ninety-eight.” By the end Ahmed was at death’s door, beaten, bloodied and bruised. For some weeks it was unclear if he would survive. He did survive and his people never forgot this act of loving grace.
Source: story reported in Michael Frost, Jesus the Fool (Sutherland, NSW: Albatross, 1994) pp138-144