Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FEET (01/17/19)
TITLE: A Teaching Moment
By Ken Grant
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"Ready to go, Javier?"
They each slid out of the booth and headed out the front entrance of the downtown restaurant. It was a place that Raphael had been going since he was Javier's age. The restaurant had changed little, but the neighborhood around it had deteriorated significantly. He kept a watchful eye on Javier as they walked down the sidewalk toward the parking structure. Suddenly, Javier came to a quick stop and Raphael's defensive instincts sprang to life.
"What's wrong, Javier?"
"Look at that man's feet. They're so dirty."
Raphael looked at an old man whose shoes had worn out long ago. The man looked up through bleary eyes that had clearly endured much pain and loss.
"I'm sorry, sir. Come, Javier."
"What'd I do wrong?"
"Come with me now."
The two of them found their car and drove home in silence. Raphael was frustrated and angry, but he wasn't sure at whom. His son didn't understand why what he had said was inappropriate and Raphael blamed himself most of all. Had he failed to impart empathy to his son? Had he failed to be the right kind of example? What had gone wrong?
"Are you mad, Papa?"
The question came as they pulled into the driveway. Turning off the car, Raphael took a deep breath, turned toward his son and replied, "no, Javier, just disappointed."
"No, at myself."
"I don't understand, Papa."
"Come inside and I'll show you."
They walked inside, but Raphael stopped his son and said, "go get a bowl, fill it with water, and get soap and a towel."
"Just do it."
Raphael sat down and waited for his son to return with the items as requested. When Javier walked in he told him, "put the bowl on the floor, and give me the soap and towel."
"Sit down there, take off your shoes and socks and roll up your pants."
"What's going on, Papa?"
"You'll see soon enough."
After his son had done as he requested, Raphael wet the towel, soaped it up, and kneeling before his son he began to wash his feet.
"I don't like this, Papa."
"Please let me finish, son."
Eventually Raphael had washed his son's feet until they shown clean. He then looked up at him and said, "do you understand what I've done, son?"
"There is a story in the Bible about Jesus washing his disciples' feet. He did it to show them that the greatest among them is the one who is the servant of all. He showed his love for them by washing their feet."
"Just like I should have done with that man?"
"You should have shown him, compassion, but that is my fault, son. I haven't set the right example for you and I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
Raphael drew his son close and held him tight. He knew that his son was a treasure from God and he wanted to care for that treasure the way that God wanted him to. Thankfully, a lesson in dirty and clean feet and in serving was a great place to start.
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