Literally Speaking

Our Internet connection was down yesterday, so I picked up a book I’d been asked to review. Here is one of the many teaching stories. The following was taken from the book titled, nothing holy about it, The Zen of Being Just Who You Are, p 18. This book can be downloaded for free as a PDF.

An eight-year-old girl became ill and was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disease. She needed a transfusion, but her blood type was rare. A search went out for a donor. With every passing day, the little girl weakened, and still, no donor was found.

Then it was discovered that her six-year-old brother shared her rare blood type. The mother, along with their minister and doctor, sat down with the boy. Would he be willing to donate his blood to save his sister’s life?

The boy did not answer right away. He wanted time to think about it. After a few days, he went to his mother. “yes, I’ll do it,” he said.

The following day, the doctor brought both children to his clinic and placed them on cots, side by side. First, he drew some blood from the boy’s arm. Then he crossed to the sister’s cot, inserted the needle, and began the transfusion. Almost immediately, the colour poured back into her cheeks.

After a moment, the boy motioned for the doctor to come to his bedside. In a whisper, he asked. “Will I start to die right away?”

Pausing for thought here. The boy understood ‘giving his blood’ literally, i.e. All of it! How often does this ‘taking something somebody asks/says/reads, literally? How hard can that be to negotiate in the nuanced world we function in.

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