Henry Linder is a 93-year-old shoe cobbler in a tiny town in the Carolinas. He’s an internet sensation right now, even though he doesn’t own a computer. Erik Olsen’s documentary on Henry just won first place in iReport’s Community Choice category.
Henry retired from the shoe business in his seventies, Olsen reports. But he returned three months later, mainly because he missed his customers. Now Henry says he’ll quit when his “toes point upwards.”
Henry is an example of doing work in a spirit of true service. His craftsmanship is superb but his focus isn’t on the shoes. “I make other people happy, or I think I do — they say I do.”
“I’ve made more friends than I’ve made money, I imagine,” he says.
Henry reminds me of someone.
Lisa (not her real name) was in an out-of-the-way place too—the Denver women’s prison. She was a student in our class, “Find Your Purpose Now.” The class was based on the assumption that everyone has a purpose and we are called to carry it out, even if we are—heaven forbid—incarcerated.
Lisa was an eager student. On the final night of class she came with her finalized purpose statement:
My life purpose is to encourage people and give them hope. I will help them become free from the past.
She’d also written out a five-point strategy on how she was going to be the encourager she felt she was called to be—in prison with her fellow-inmates.
Both Henry and Lisa know they are here to make life better for others. They are giving what they have to give in the place where they are planted.
They point the way for us:
— Do we wish we were elsewhere?
— Do we put off giving ourselves fully until things settle down? When there’s more money in the bank? When we feel stronger? When________?
Truth is, we don’t know how much time we have left here on earth. We don’t know for sure where we’ll be a year from now. Things could be more calm or more chaotic.
We must give our Gift now.
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photo credit: Bachir (creative commons)