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A Hand on My Shoulder

Gifts are all around us if we only slow down, stop, and see them.

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A Hand on My Shoulder

I can still feel Raymond’s hand on my shoulder.

I hope I always will.

Four of us are walking through downtown Richmond.  It’s a mile walk, not 26.1 miles, from the finish line at the Richmond Marathon.

I see him crossing 7th Street.

Tap . . . tap  . . . tapping a long white cane for his bearings.

He’s a black man about my age . . . and he’s blind.

His bearings are a tad off.  He’s tapping toward the edge of the curb and a street lamp.

Impulsively, (a word that has brought me both joy and heartache) I hurry to him.

“Sir, you might want to move to your right a step or two.”

He nods and I notice two things.  His lifeless eyes and radiant smile.

“Thanks.”

“Do you mind if I walk a ways with you?”

He puts his right hand on my shoulder.  Tap. Tap. Tap.

“Sure. My name’s Raymond.”  We walk and visit in the ambling way we Southern men are famous for.  All of this time, his hand is on my shoulder.

It’s not a tight grip.  It’s not just a touch for guidance.  It’s more of a friendship grip.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

“Watch out. There’s a crack in the sidewalk.”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

“We’re coming up on 8th Street, aren’t we?”

I look ahead to the massive statue of George Washington on his horse and the state capital beyond it.  “We are.  I’ll need to stop here and rejoin my wife.”

Raymond turns to me.  “I can sense the Spirit of the Lord on you.”

I glance at his hand on my shoulder.  “And I can feel that same Spirit on you.”

He nods. “Will you pray with me?”

Our mutual prayers are short, sweet, and heartfelt.

Raymond takes his hand off my shoulder and steps off the curb onto 8th Street.  He stops.  “Come give my a hug, man.”

We embrace, then he smiles. “I know I’ll see you again. I just know it.”

 

Tap. Tap. Tap.  He continues his journey toward 9th Street.

As I watch him, the irony of his words grips my heart.  “I’ll see you again. I just know it.”

I realize what he means.  Next time I see him, he won’t have a white cane and those cloudy eyes will be seeing.

 

At the Richmond Marathon, over five thousand people started the 26-mile race. Amazingly, I watched the first runners cross the finish line in a little over two hours. The Kenyans and Ethiopians who led the race sprinted the last downhill stretch.

Eventually I’ll forget the details of the race and the faces of those finishers.

But I don’t plan on forgetting the feel of Raymond’s hand on my shoulder.

I still feel it there.

And I feel it in my heart.

I hope I always will.

I once was lost, but now I’m found

Was blind, but now I see.

“Amazing Grace”

John Newton

 

                                                            Finish Line for Richmond Marathon

Read free sample chapters from our new book, Christmas Jelly.

  • My Life Verse is,  “But seek first the Kingdom  of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
  • Matthew 6:33    See this verse in various translations.

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About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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