A shoe shine minister lightens a weighty week

I met Moses on Wednesday. He was shining shoes in the JW Marriott. Actually, I heard him before I saw him and it was several days before I introduced myself.

“The 10 commandments, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” he almost sang. “Love your neighbor.” This was conversation that came free of charge when you got your shoes shined. I was amused to watch the faces of the recipients. Some smiled. Some agreed and encouraged him. Some turned their heads the other way, pretending they couldn’t hear. But you couldn’t help but hear him. And I marveled. What an amazing testimony. A ministry of shoe-shining.

Moses shines shoes at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis

Moses shines shoes at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis

On Friday I finally caught Moses without a customer so I stopped and asked him how long he’d been in the ministry. Ten years, he told me. I asked if I could snap a photo and he obliged, although he insisted it was quick because guys were waiting downstairs for him. He was headed to his evening job, hard rock, gospel style. In the band he was “King Moses.”

I’m always amazed by people who integrate their faith and their work (not just their works). Who somehow translate the Good News message into the language of their vocations. Moses’ way was pretty forthright.

But this morning I walked to sessions with a physiotherapist from Canada.  The scientific conference we have been attending is coming to a close. So much research has been presented. So much debating of validity and statistical significance and repeatability and…

“It’s a shame,” she said, “when you know the good you can do but delay and wait for more confirmation.” She liked people who took what was good – and well-designed exercise is always good – and put it into practice to help people.

She laughed when she recalled some students who came to her with “wondrous” faces. They had just helped an amputee walk for the first time. They said, “I suppose this gets old after you’ve done it more times.”

“It never gets old,” she told me. Each time you help someone walk for the first time, it’s wondrous. Just as amazing as the first time.

I imagine that was the look on the faces of the onlookers when Jesus healed the paralytic and told him, “Take up your mat and walk.” And he did just that. They must have had wondrous faces. And for Jesus and the disciples, it never got old.

What a privilege it is to be a translator of science into the practice of life. To take all these studies and stats and protocols and debates and cull out what will be just the thing that might work for the athletes who come my way. There won’t be a lot of fanfare, but when it works, it is wondrous. Every time.

Leave the research to the researchers and let them get it just exactly right. The rules are important and we want to avoid jumping to our own conclusions, but serving in the field is where the rubber meets the road. I figure I’m a translator of sorts.

Like King Moses said, “the 10 commandments … then love you neighbor.” Translating one into the other is a life’s work.


About wlebolt

Life comes at you fast. I like to catch it and toss it back. Or toss it up to see where it lands. I do my best thinking when I'm moving. And my best writing when I am tapping my foot to a beat no one else hears. Kinesthetic to the core.

Posted on June 1, 2013, in Cool Science, In Action, Sermon Response and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Mary Anne Noland

    I really like this one. Wish we had the opportunity to sit , sip tea, and talk more often. I admire(I know I’m not to covet) your dedication and ability to write.

  2. Thank you for reading and for your encouragement, Mary Anne. Interestingly, I can’t say it’s dedication so much as just a “need” to download my brain ponderings so they can move on to the next thing. Otherwise they whir and spin and go nowhere. As to ability…well, we know where THAT comes from.

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