“Do you have room for one more?”
It was the end of the day at our drop-in and I was getting ready to clean up the foot care station. I was tired. I had been there for four hours cleaning and massaging feet of all sizes, shapes, and conditions. And yet I was drawn to this disheveled, but gentle old man. “Of course I have room,” I replied. His eyes sparkled with gratitude. I proceeded to fill the foot basin with water, Epsom salts, and soap. He carefully removed his worn shoes and dirty socks. He looked ashamed as he revealed his soiled, foul-smelling feet. I pretended not to notice.
Then he soaked his feet and we began to talk.
I do not recall that our conversation was particularly meaningful or deeply personal. We exchanged pleasantries, mainly. We shared a few stories about our lives. We talked about the weather (how typically Canadian!). We discussed our mutual love of animals, too. After about twenty minutes or so – after his feet had been cleaned, massaged, and clad with a fresh pair of socks – I thanked him for coming. As he got up to leave, he slowly turned to me and said, “y’know, I was not having a very good day, but I just wanted you to know that you have turned my day right around!” I smiled and told him that I, too, had enjoyed our conversation. It was not until I arrived home later that afternoon, however, that I allowed myself to receive this simple, yet powerful gift of gratitude.
I have yet to understand, fully, why this interaction has stayed with me these past five years. And while I have learned much at OIM, one thing stands out above the rest: God seems to delight in using the most ordinary, routine, even mundane, acts of service to do some extraordinary work.