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My alarm went off -- it was Sunday again; I was tired  -- it was my one day to sleep in.

But  the guilt I'd have felt the rest of the day would have been too much, so I'd go; I'd pray.  I showered and shaved, adjusted suit and tie, got there and swung into a pew just in time.

Bowing  my head in humble prayer before I closed my eyes, I saw that the shoe of the man next to me was touching my own and I sighed. With plenty of room on either side, I thought, "why do  our soles have to touch? It bothered me so; he was glued to my shoe, but it didn't seem to bother him much.

Then the prayer  began: "Heavenly Father," someone said -- But I
> thought, "Does this man with the shoes have no pride?" They were  dusty, worn, scratched end to end. What's worse, there were holes on the side! "Thank You for blessings," the prayer went on.  The shoe man said a quiet "amen." I tried to focus on the  prayer, but my thoughts were on his shoes again. Aren't we supposed to look our best when walking through that door?    "Well, this certainly isn't it," I thought,  glancing toward the

Then the prayer ended and songs of praise began.  The shoe man was loud, sounding proud as he sang. He  lifted the rafters; his hands raised high; The Lord surely heard his voice from the sky.    Then the offering was passed; what I threw in was steep. The shoe man reached into his pockets, so deep, and I tried to see what he pulled out to put in, then I heard a soft "clink", as when silver hits tin.

The sermon bored me to tears--And no lie--It was the  same for the shoe man, for tears fell from his eyes. At the end of the service, as is custom here, we must greet visitors and show them good cheer.  But I was moved inside to want to meet this man, so after the closing I shook his hand. He was old, his skin dark, his hair a mess;  I thanked him for coming, for being our guest.

He said, "My  name's Charlie, glad to meet you, my friend," And there were tears in his eyes -- but he had a wide grin. "Let me  explain," he said, wiping his eyes.  "I've been coming for months, and you're the first to say, "Hi." "I know I don't look like all the rest, but I  always try to look my best." "I polish my  shoes before my long walk, but by the time I get here they're as dirty as chalk."

My heart fell to my knees, but  I held back my tears, he continued, "And I must  apologize for sitting so near." "But I know when I get here, I must look a sight.  And I thought if I touched you, our souls might unite."

I was silent for  a moment knowing anything I said; would pale in comparison, so I spoke from my heart not my head. "Oh,  you've touched me," I said.  "And taught me, in part, that the best of a man is what's in his heart." The rest, I  thought, this man will never know.  How thankful I am that he touched my soul!

You might be best friends one year, pretty good friends the next
year, don't talk that often the next year, don't want  to talk at all the year after that.

So, I just wanted to say, even if I never talk to you  again in my life, you are special to me  and you have made a difference in my life, I respect you, and truly cherish you.

Send this to all your friends, no matter how often you talk, or how close you are.  Let  old friends know you haven't forgotten them, and tell new friends you never will. Remember, everyone needs a  friend; someday you might feel like you have no  friends at all, just remember this e-mail and take comfort in knowing somebody out there cares about you and always will.

author :  Leanne Freiberg

Copyright 2001

The Son ] Columbine Truth ] What if it's True? ] Gentle Reminder ] New School Prayer ] Do You Believe? ] Acceptance ] What Price? ] Gospel in a Nutshell ] Something to Ponder ] Saying Grace ] [ The Shoes ] Guardian Angels ] Your Cross ] More prayer in Schools ]

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