Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Reader (04/15/10)
By Angela King
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He was always in the way. And I hated having to walk past him to get into the building because he reeked of moth balls and sweat. Today was no different—if nothing, it was worse—as the temperature climbed higher and his stench grew more intense as it reached my nostrils. As I began my ascent up the steps I had climbed hundreds of times, my foot caught the step in front of me and I fell a mere foot away from the man.
I knew my ankle was broken the minute my body met the concrete. As I lay there helplessly, I could hear other students grumbling that I was in the way. I felt abandoned and no one stopped to help me. And then I felt sandpaper on my hand—but it wasn’t sandpaper—it was the hand of the man on the steps. I quickly looked at his outstretched hand—calloused and decorated with dirt—and I grasped it tightly as he pulled me up to sit. He was gentle and I could read the concerned look on his face.
In the midst of the chaos, I glanced down at the book he cherished, tossed aside as he attended to my needs. It was a Braille copy of the Holy Bible, opened up to Isaiah 42:16. I wondered what the verse had said but before I could ask him, I was being taken away by an ambulance. I watched him feel around the steps for his prized possession as the ambulance drove away and I prayed that he would find it.
I looked up that verse when I was settled in my apartment later that evening. Unlike his tattered bible, mine looked crisp and brand new—unused. I came upon the passage in Isaiah and tears stung my eyes as I read the words,
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
I realized at that moment that the man who was forsaken by the world around him—the one who was mocked and ostracized—was not forsaken by the One who mattered most. And that his weathered, dirt-stained bible held all of the wisdom that I had sought out in the thousands of books that existed on that campus—books that came up short of what I yearned for and desperately needed to find.
The kindness of this one man led me to the truth and I would never look upon him as a scourge again.
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