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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The gift of generosity

Dr. Howard Kelly was a famous physician, who is best known for his creation of the Johns Hopkins Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Johns Hopkins University in 1895. But there is a touching story that circles on the internet, about Kelly knocking at a door and asking for a glass of water. A little girl opened the door and brought him a large glass of fresh milk instead of water. Their ways parted, but after some time, Dr. Kelly was confronted with a patient who needed urgent surgery. The patient was no one else but… the little girl who had given him the glass of milk some time ago. When the girl received the bill for her surgery it read: “paid in full with a glass of milk.”

While some versions of the online story are dramatized to make Kelly a poor little boy selling door to door, and only later becoming the famous doctor who could return the favor, the core remained unchanged: Kelly did return the favor in a very generous way. He remembered the little girl who had given him the milk when he was so thirsty, and repaid her in a way she would have never dreamed of. There is, of course, also the side of the girl: she was generous to a stranger, and could never imagine that it would one day save her life.

For both people in this story, there is one important commonality: giving more than is expected from you without expecting anything in return. I am sure that Dr. Kelly’s act of gratitude and generosity to the girl was later also repaid to him in another generous way.

Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity. ~Jose Marti

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