The Shoe Man
from an email sent to me.
The shoe man poem.
I showered and shaved, I adjusted my tie, I got there and sat in
a pew just in time.
Bowing my head in prayer. As I closed my eyes. I saw the shoe of
the man next to me. Touching my own. I sighed.
With plenty of room on either side. I thought, “Why must
our soles touch?”
It bothered me, his shoe touching mine. But it didn’t bother him
A prayer began: “Our Father.” I thought, “This
man with the shoes has no pride”.
“They’re dusty, worn, and scratched. Even worse, there are holes
on the side!”
“Thank You for blessings,” the prayer went on.
The shoe man said a quiet “Amen.”
I tried to focus on prayer. But my thoughts were on the
Aren’t we supposed to look our best when walking through that
“Well, this certainly isn’t it,” I thought, glancing
toward the floor.
Then the prayer was ended, and the songs of praise began.
The shoe man was undoubtedly loud-sounding proud as he sang.
His voice lifted the rafters. His hands were raised high.
The Lord could hear the shoe man’s voice from the sky.
It was time for the offering. And what I threw in was steep.
I watched as the shoe man reached into his pockets so deep.
I saw what was pulled out, what the shoe man put in.
Then I heard a soft “clink” as when silver hits the tin.
The sermon bored me to tears, and that’s no lie. It was
the same for the shoe man. For tears fell from his eyes.
At the end of the service as is the custom here
We must greet new visitors and show them all the good cheer.
But I felt moved somehow. And wanted to meet the shoe man.
So after the closing prayer, I reached over and shook his hand.
He was old, and his skin was dark. And his hair was indeed a mess.
But I thanked him for coming for being our guest.
He said, “My names’ Charlie I’m glad to meet you, my
There were tears in his eyes. But he had a broad, wide grin
“Let me explain,” he said. Wiping tears from his eyes.
“I’ve been coming here for months, and you’re the first to say ‘Hi.'”
“I know that my appearance.is not like all the rest, but I do always try to look my best.”
“I always clean and polish my shoes before my very long
“But by the time I get here they’re dirty and dusty, like
My heart filled with pain, and I swallowed to hide my tears.
As he continued to apologize. For daring to sit so near.
He said, “When I get here, I know I must look a sight.”
“But I thought if I could touch you “Then maybe our
souls might unite.”
I was silent for a moment. Knowing whatever was said Would pale in comparison, I spoke from my heart, not my head.
“Oh, you’ve touched me,” I said “And taught me,
“That the best of any man is what is found in his
The rest, I thought,
This shoe man will never know. Like just how thankful I
am. That his dirty old shoe touched my soul. You are special to me, and you have
made a difference in my life. I respect you and truly cherish you.