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"We're all doing what we can."

-- John Lennon

Ah, Arkansas, you never cease to please and entertain and amaze. Even in this heat. Just when we thought we'd just give up on everything in the papers, grab an old copy of some light, breezy Cormac McCarthy novel, and sit in the AC until after the next presidential election, something appears in the paper that restores our faith in mankind. Or at least womankind. Proving again that one cannot live by literature alone.

You'll note that every now and then, one of the Waltons or one of the Tysons or maybe another Stephens or Murphy or Rockefeller will find a charity in good standing and make one of those eye-popping donations to it. You know the kind: an amount of money that could create another foundation. Or open a building on campus. Or open a whole campus. Such news will make all the papers. And deserves to.

Then there are those not quite of the Waltons' means, but who--by some inner guiding light that brightens even the darkest evening--do those things that they can. For the least among these. We remember a Preacher of some note suggesting such a thing.

Bill Bowden seems to get all the good stories. His latest appeared in Tuesday's paper: A lady in Fort Smith was shopping at a Payless shoe store the other day when one of her daughters suggested buying a pair of shoes for a boy at her school. The young girl's mom, one Carrie Jernigan, decided to go a little further. She bought out the store.

And now she's giving away all the shoes.

"The Bible says we're the hands and feet of Jesus because He's not here to do it," she told our reporter. Of course, gotcha, and aha! We knew there'd be a Christian aspect to this. As if Carrie Jernigan heard of a man who once said: For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. Doubtless, she's heard that somewhere before.

Mrs. Jernigan made a deal for the shoes. She won't tell the nosy press how much she paid for all 1,500-plus shoes, flip-flops, etc., but notes that she got a good deal. As if buying a whole store of shoes, then giving them away to folks in northwest Arkansas who need them, means she's getting a deal! There's no accounting for modesty and reserve. They seem to go perfectly with charity.

But back to us. The media doesn't mind tooting its own horn--we love talking about us!--so it's good that the news of Carrie Jernigan and her daughters Harper and Campbell is getting around. People are looking for the Jernigans to help. And receive help. Which is the whole point.

"A gentleman just came up to me and handed me a thousand dollars cash," Carrie Jernigan told our reporter. "He said, 'I just want you to go spend this on those kids.' I said, 'Done.'"

Other businesses are getting involved. Because this sort of thing is catching. And hundreds have sent her messages taking her up on the offer of free shoes just before school starts again.

What do Christians call this? A ministry? Or maybe, since it's unofficial at this point, just ministering.

Just ministering.

What an awful phrase! As in "just rescuing" or "only saving." Or just delivering us from evil.

Which takes us back to The Book. Bill Bowden's story reminds us of a few paragraphs from Isaiah, about inner lights and outer coverings. (Such as shoes?) And reminds us of the family Jernigan--not to mention the other families who are all doing what we can. Of any means. Here endeth today's lesson:

"Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

"Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

"Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy right-eousness shall go before thee: the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.

"Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer: Thou shalt cry, and He shall say, here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

"And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day."

Editorial on 07/31/2019

Print Headline: Shoe carnival


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