Paid in Full With a Glass of Milk


One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.
Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it so slowly, and then asked, How much do I owe you?”

You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”

He said … “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes.

Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once.

He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to her case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won.

Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words …

“Paid in full with a glass of milk”

(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly.

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: “Thank You, God, that Your love has spread broad through human hearts and hands.”

I had heard this story for the first time as a fresh college student from a lecture of Sadhu Brahmvihari Das and it felt so inspiring and magical to me that years later when I heard it again I checked for the resources of the original incident and I found it to be related in a similar way though not completely the same. But the point it illustrates beautifully is that you don’t need to be much wealthy or rich to be kind, sometimes you can shower simple love and kindness upon others with a glass of milk as well. You don’t necessarily need to go out and visit every charity function and gathering to help other people out. If you have true conviction in your heart then you can do so in a thousand simple ways like smiling at a complete stranger, feasting with your friends, taking personal care of pets in your street, offering your seat in a bus or metro to a more needy person, helping little kids in their studies, listening to a friend. These are the things I think that are almost free of cost, it does not require much of money or anything; all you need on your sides are some efforts and a heart filled of genuine love. It also tells us and makes us believe in the retelling that goodness returns itself in a more beautiful way. And I also have faith in these words and the kindness of a good heart that we all are immensely beautiful and equally surrounded with beautiful souls that are just waiting to be known. So let us find that beauty and kindness in one another and most importantly inside our own selves.

Dr. Howard Kelly was one of the four founding fathers of The John Hopkins Medicine Institute. He was very famous gynecologist and a reputed personality. Inspired from the story of his life a small short commercial was made in Thailand and later also published on the Wall Street Journal. The name of the commercial was ‘Giving’ and it was based on the same theme of selfless love and kindness. You can watch it here:

Via In the Joy of Others Lies Our Own

The poet/editor of this website is physically disabled, and lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Contributions may be made at:

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