An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. ~ Carl Jung


Many years ago, when I was growing up in New York State, I knew an old shoe repair man. Louie was no ordinary shoe guy, no ordinary man.

Our families had been friends for many years, having both immigrated from Italy in the early 1900s. Louie was a dwarf, barely three feet tall, and also a hunchback who walked with a painful limp. Yet he was about the most cheerful, compassionate man I’ve ever known.

As kids, we  used to love going into his shop just to visit. He always had a kind word and a knowing twinkle in his eye, especially if something was troubling us. He was a great listener, compassionate and caring. He was widely known for his bright-eyed kindness, and nearly everyone in town loved him.

Louie was also an expert shoe repair man, his work being highly regarded all over our rural area. He wasn’t particularly religious, but he not only healed soles, he healed souls.

His shoe repair business was only a sideline. His true profession was as a healer and teacher to all who were fortunate enough to know him. The hallmark of his character was kindness.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from Louie about kindness. I’ve carried the memories with me ever since those long-ago days.

  • When you walked into Louie’s shop, you felt almost as if you’d entered another dimension. His energy was palpable and radiated throughout his shop. As soon as you were in the door, Louie gave you his full attention.
  • He was always genuinely interested in what was going on in his customers’ lives.
  • Louie was a great listener. You always knew his heart was open, and  you had his full attention.
  • He never preached or gave advice unless you asked for it.
  • Even then, his advice was always kind. He never criticized you, or anyone else.
  • Louie was no saint, but he sure knew how to uplift people’s spirits.
  • He was a healer of human hearts without really knowing what he was doing. You never left his shop feeling down or depressed, even if that’s what you were feeling when you walked in.
  • It wasn’t what he did or said that made a difference, but who he was. His being was far more powerful than his doing.

Do you have anyone like Louie in your life? If you do, you are richly blessed.

P.S. This is one of the 9 most uplifting posts from 2018 you cannot ignore.
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Copyright © 2018 by John Cali


This short video is an excerpt from American writer George Saunders’s 2013 commencement speech at Syracuse University.


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