‘Give, and it will be given to you...’
I want to tell you a true story. It is from an article written some years ago for the Atlantic Monthly by James Norman Hall in which he told how following World War I he went to the island of Tahiti just to get away, to rest and to think. At the time he was an unknown writer and faced the problem of making a living until he could sell some of his writings.

After making the down payment of rent on a one-room shack, he had only five dollars left for food. Among his things he ran across a package of vegetable seed. Not knowing the climate, instead of planting them, he gave them to Hop Sing, a Chinese neighbor who lived next door.

A few days later, Hop Sing came over bringing a “littly plesent,” three melons, a hen and a dozen eggs in the process of being hatched. That afternoon, walking to town, he met a relative of Hop Sing who had heard of Mr. Hall’s kindness who gave him a box of chocolates.

When his landlord came by the next day with his children, they got the chocolates. The landlord was so pleased that afterwards he kept his tenant supplied with fruits and vegetables from his garden. In fact, the supply was so bountiful the five dollars never had to be spent.

Then one day a check arrived five hundred dollars— an advance on some short stories he had sent to a publisher in America. James Norman Hall decided to leave Tahiti. As a farewell gift Hop Sing gave him a dozen ears of Golden Bantam sweet corn grown from the package of seed he had received months before.

On the first night out, the cook prepared the roasting ears for supper. A silent, gloomy Englishman ate three of them. Later, on deck, he explained that he suffered from indigestion and that sweet corn was one of the few things he could eat. As it turned out, he was an editor and bought four of his stories.

It was this article, “The Trail of a Gift,” which brought James Norman Hall to the attention of the reading public. Later, in collaboration with Charles Nordhoff, he wrote, “Mutiny On The Bounty,” a best seller that was made into a motion picture. And it all began with a gift—a package of seed corn given in friendship to a neighbor next door.

It was the Man from Galilee who said, “Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” It is a great truth. Why don’t you give it a try in the coming year?

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple where he was senior minister for 23 years.

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2010-09-16 digital edition

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