Often in life, it is the simple and small gestures that leave the most profound and significant impressions on a human heart: a flower bouquet; an unexpected hug; a thank-you card; an invitation to dinner…or someone leaving you a pair of used shoes!
That last one seems a bit unusual and strange, doesn’t it? It could make sense if we were talking about ladies with a passionate affinity for special shoe designs or brands. If another lady were to leave them a pair they have been craving for – even a second-hand (foot?) pair – one would appreciate the significance.
But my case was quite different: an ordinary pair of black shoes – not new, slightly old fashioned and of average monetary value. So why did they make a significant impression on my heart? Because they were left for me by my brother-in-law, Peter.
Peter did not have much earthly possession. That’s not because he wasn’t capable or smart enough to have a well-paying job. Nor did he lose his earnings on expensive habits and vices. No, the reason he didn’t have much is because he chose to give to others rather than keep for himself. He managed to neutralize and kill off the self-centeredness that threatens to shackle us all, and instead lived to serve, help and generously give to others.
Peter’s benevolence was deeply rooted in his faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. His kindness, compassion and generosity were not just a byproduct of his personality traits and self-discipline; they were founded on the fundamental teachings of the Gospel and were borne by the very presence of God in his life.
The shoes Peter left me upon departing from Cyprus were not a spare pair. Hasmig told me afterwards that he had to wear his casual tennis shoes to a formal evening… because he had given his nice shoes to me! Giving from abundance and excess, we can all do. But few have I met in life that gave and sacrificed like Peter did.
Five years on, I still wear Peter’s shoes. And every time I do, I pause to remember him and reflect on the things he taught me through his life. Walking in his shoes today is a special honor and privilege for me. Walking in his footsteps and following his generous example is a daily challenge for all of us who knew him.