The Last Leaf
William Sydney Porter, (1862-1910), "O Henry as he is known, was an American writer famous for his short stories. His works are still enjoyed today, and I feel always will be. He wrote about what he saw. He wrote as a passion. A few of his famous works are, "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Ransom of Red Chief". My favorite is his short story called "The Last Leaf".
It's the story about living in a run-down tenement building in a densely populated inner city. People are poor, work is hard to come by, and apartments are poorly heated. Food insecurity is a way of life for everyone. The snows and bitter cold of winter have arrived. "The Last Leaf" concerns Johnsy, a poor young woman who is seriously ill with pneumonia. She is bed-ridden and is being cared for by a relative. The local doctor stops by every now and then to look in on her and see if she is getting any better. Her extended illness, with coughing and fever and loss of appetite, is causing her to lose hope. All her neighbors living in the building are aware of her illness and her resolve to give up any desire to get better.
Directly outside her bedroom window is the brick wall of a building across the alley. A wild ivy vine has grown up the wall and clings to the brick. She believes that when all the leaves on the vine have fallen off, she will die. Her desire to live diminishes with each falling leaf.
Mr. Behrman, a German neighbor and artist of no particular artistic worth, learns about her decision to die when all the leaves on the ivy vine are gone. He goes out one night with his pallet of paints and brushes and a ladder and paints a perfect leaf on the brick under the strong vine. He tricks her by permanently painting a "last leaf" which can't be blown away. During that outing in the middle of the night to paint this fake last leaf, he dies in the snowbank next to his ladder in the alley.
Several days later, with her illness subsiding, Johnsy sits up and asks for a bowl of soup to eat. She is beginning to feel a little better. She asks for the curtains to be drawn back so she can see the brick wall. Her relative is not willing to do this because surely, all the leaves are gone by now. When the relative leaves the room for a minute, Johnsy gets up and opens the curtains. One leaf has remained under a strong vine. She resolves to fight to get better. She has no idea that the last leaf was painted by a gifted artist, his last work of art during his life.
I John 3:2 says, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known". We are not what we shall be! The verse continues by saying "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure".
Cursillo gives people hope. Hope on the inside, the place where most folks hide what they are experiencing. Places where hope has long since left, leaving people to feel abandoned and unloved. The candidates will not understand this during the weekend, but slowly, gradually, several days or weeks later, the will examine the vine of their lives and realize that God has painted a last leaf that cannot be blown away. A last leaf to prove He will never leave us as orphans. We belong to Him, and He knows our name!
Cling to that hope and pass it on to others. We do that even when we pray for the success of the weekend. It's a palanca letter in the heart.
God loves you and so do I. De Colores!
Rev. Jack Moody #355