Last month, I happened to read an article in the Wall Street Journal detailing the life and work of a cobbler named James Fucile. At 83 years old and with nearly sixty years in the business, James finally decided to retire and close down his shoe repair shop on the Upper East Side.
Why was this news noteworthy enough to garner a feature in a national newspaper? Well, because Mr. Fucile apparently lived his life with such uncommon kindness, generosity, and grace, that his regular customers could hardly bear the thought of his absence in the neighborhood and their lives.
James went about his work with integrity and reliability. Replacing leather soles with rubber ones in order to save the customer a little money. When he accumulated shoes that customers had forgotten for more than a year, he’d give them away to those desperately in need of new ones. He avoided any kind of recognition and would dependably greet anyone with a smile as they walked through the door.
“God gave everybody a gift to love one another,” Fucile said. And love could even come through something as simple as repairing shoes.
Which got me thinking about all the unassuming acts of love that I’m not always too great at noticing. The thoughtfulness of someone who holds the door open for the person behind them. The grocery store clerk who offers a few kind words and a smile, even after standing on her feet for hours. The warm greetings exchanged over coffee outside the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. A friend who sends an unexpected note of encouragement. A neighbor who shovels the sidewalk of next-door homes on a snowy day. The list is endless.
The author George Eliot once wrote, “What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”
What if we each went about our days with the intention to make life less difficult for each other? If, in our interactions with others, we sought out ways to be kind and generous. And how might our perspectives shift if we took time to notice the simple ways others do the same? Whether it’s mending the sole of a shoe or caring for the souls of our brothers & sisters, there is no shortage of ways to love one another.
– Katy Warren, associate pastor