“Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.” G. K. Chesterton
A young woman gave birth to her first child just one month after her husband died in a tragic accident. The neighbors, deeply concerned over the plight of the poor young widow, held a shower for the baby. Each person brought a beautiful present to help the mother and child get started in life. When all of the gifts were opened, the mother wept. “Thank you for your wonderful support,” she said, brushing back her tears. “You have made a most difficult time easier. Next Sunday my son will be baptized. I have decided to name him Victor after his father.”
When all of the guests had left, the young widow heard a knock on the door. She opened it to find an old man who lived in the corner house by himself. Everyone called him Doc Burns, though he wasn’t really a doctor in the accepted, normal sense. Few people ever talked to the reclusive old man, though he often waved at the widow as she walked past his home.
“I have come to give you my gift for your young son,” he said softly. “Mine is a different kind of gift from the others you have received. I have come to offer you one wish for young Victor. It may be anything that you want. You must make the wish before the child is baptized on Sunday.” Having concluded, the little man bowed and walked back to his house on the corner.
The young mother was baffled by the words of her strange little friend. Did he really have the power to grant a wish?” What should she ask for? All week long she could not make up her mind. Finally, as they walked forward to the baptismal font, she whispered in the infant’s ear, “I wish that everyone in the world will love my Victor.”
And the wish came true. Victor grew up to be a handsome little boy. As a toddler, people could not resist hugging and touching him. Even when he was naughty, no one could believe that he had done anything wrong. As he grew older and much more handsome, Victor became known and loved throughout the little town in which he and his mother lived. He was always given food and toys by other children. If his mother scolded or punished him, the adults would insist that she was being too harsh to such a wonderful child. Victor would often respond to all this attention by treating people with scorn and contempt. Still, they seemed to adore him. Only in his occasional talks with Doc Burns did he listen to anyone.
When Victor graduated from high school, he was given a scholarship to a college far from his childhood home. At Christmas, when he retuned home for a visit for the first time, he drove up in a beautiful black expensive car. His trunks were filled with fine clothes, and he had plenty of spending money. He seldom saw his mother during vacation. He spent his nights out drinking at parties and bars.
After college Victor never worked but continued to live a life of ease. There was no pleasure he did not experience and there was no vice that did not have his name on it. Even though women smothered him with attention and friends raved about him, his heart grew empty and his soul sick and dark. He despised people who catered to him. He was disgusted with everything and everyone.
One night Victor decided to commit suicide. He withdrew to his bedroom where he mixed a powerful poison in a glass of wine and lifted it to his lips. Just as he was about to drink it, Doc Burns rushed through the door and knocked the glass from his hand.” Good evening, Victor. It has been a long time since we have had a chance to talk,” the old man said softly. “You seem to be overwhelmed by your life of comfort and thoughtlessness. I am sorry it has been such a meaningless existence for you. I suppose I am the one responsible for your misery. I fulfilled your mother’s wish on the day of your baptism, even though it was a foolish one. Suppose I now offer you a new wish? Make it anything you want, and I will fulfill it.”
“I don’t think you can give me anything that I haven’t already had,” Victor said sadly. “Think again, my son,” the wise old man gently whispered. “Make another wish for my sake, and for the sake of your aging mother.” Victor then closed his eyes and thought for several minutes. Finally, he spoke through his tears. “Take away the old magic and give me a new wish. Rather than being loved, I ask for the ability to love everyone in the world.” Now that was amazingly good and wonderful,” Doc Burns said, as he embraced the sobbing young man. “Now things will go much better for you.”
And, as if the old man had rightly predicted, life did turn around for Victor, but not right away. Without his great charm, he began to be abandoned by his friends. Several people retaliated against him for the past wrongs he had inflicted on them throughout these past years. He was thrown into jail for three months to pay for debts that he could no longer weasel his way out of payment. While he was there, no one came to visit him. When he was finally released, he was sick, lonely, and penniless. He returned home to nurse his dying mother. For the first time in his life, he was able to return the great love.
After his mother’s recovery, Victor took a job as a janitor in an elementary school in his old hometown. He not only cared for clean floors but for the children, particularly those who came from poor families and homes. To all the children, he became,” Mr. Victor,” their friend, companion and ever-present counselor.
Finally, he met a beautiful young widow who had two small children. They married and he gave all three of them the love that they so desperately needed. Poor in possession, Victor was one of the richest men in the world.
Do you know Victor?
Share your thoughts (18 thoughts)
“This is the secret of life: the self lives only by dying, finds its identity (and its happiness) only by self-forgetfulness, self-giving, self-sacrifice, and agape love.” Peter Kreeft