Un-tying the Inner Knots

I gathered up all my stuff which now fits neatly into a 12 pound backpack, and walked down the stairs of the Refugio. It´s 6:45am and all other pilgrims seemed to have left already. Filled up my water bottle at the large sink and almost didn´t see him standing at the door until I heard a voice, "will you help me, please?" Walking alone, a little weary of some of the men, I hesitate for a second. He points to his shoes and then moves his shirt to show me the stump on his right arm. "Of course!" How could I have been so blind? He has no arm. I hold back the tears and neatly and quickly tie a knot on both of his shoes. Not wanting him to feel my sadness, I go back to my pack as matter-of-factly as I can and he leaves on his journey.

It´s hard to imagine how life must be for him each day. The simple things that I take for granted, like putting on my backpack, twisting the cap on my water bottle without thinking about it, quickly climbing up to the top bunk of the bed, getting into my sleeping bag and zipping it up, or tying a double-knot on my shoelaces. How many little things to be grateful for each day. Each day is a gift.

Six hours later a Polish man passes me on the road, bright blue eyes and a big smile. He points to his shoes. "Remember you help me this morning" he says in his broken English. I smile back broadly this time, because I no longer feel bad for him, "yes, yes, it was not a big deal." "Thank you for your help," he grinned as I wished him a good journey and walked on.

For some reason I don´t worry about how he will tie his shoelaces tomorrow. I have a feeling he will be taken care of. He has his gifts just as we all have ours. What I worry about is if I will allow small fears to build walls around me or if I will be able to un-tie my own inner knots and take advantage of the opportunities to serve.


  1. Trishna6/01/2010

    Hope the walk is going well Guri since we haven't heard from you in a bit :)

  2. Anonymous10/30/2010

    I have a very bad back and absolutely cannot bend to tie my shoelaces. So, a very kind stranger, just like you actually tied my boat shoes in super tight quadruple knots when she so me struggling. This was in August. Her blessed kindness has kept my shoelaces tied through today. She imformed me that the quadruple knots would be virtually impossible to untie, but that she would tie the laces loosely enough so that I would be able to slip my foot in and out fairly easily.
    The kindness of strangers like what you did for that man is truly inspiring. I was amazed when this very kind lady did it for me when she noticed my laces untied at the library.
    I saw her again two weeks ago and she tightened my jacket toggles on waist for me since I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 25. It was pouring outside and the kind woman remembered me from the boat shoes in August. She first double checked the knots in the boat shoes, and actually took some needle and thread and sewed the knots totally shut-she said now I would never, ever have to worry about them untying and that she was actually worried about the shoelaces untying from last time. She really backstitched the knots several times-she said that she hoped that I would never need them to be untied, because the backstitch rendered them impossible to untie now-her having made literally permanent knots my shoelaces.
    This is embarrassing to share the kindness of strangers, but she, with my jacket so huge around my waist, pulled each toggle as tight as it could go, reaching well below my knees.
    Then, she proceeded to knot up those excessively long toggles with some of the tiniest, tightest, secure simple minusule knots I had ever seen. She said that they would be permanent once she backstitched the whole seemingly Gordian knot mess. She was worried that the long loops would get caught on railing or doors to library.
    She told me any time I need assistance with my clothes because of my physical handicaps she would be happy to help.
    This kind lady even tied my jacket hood in a triple knot due to the rain.
    Strangers, like you, and my personal library angel, make me less ashamed of my RA and back problems and unafraid to ask for help.
    May God bless you!
    Regards, Cindy

  3. Anonymous11/30/2010

    Cindy back here. The same lady, who is graduate student, noticed that believe it or not some of the knots on my boat shoes were coming loose even with the backstitching. That is because of all the walking I do. So this time, she said that she really meant business. She replaced each of my boat shoelaces with really long new cotton ones not leather. She tied each of them in all really tiny super tight knots and made them into nice big spheres the size of golf balls. Then she did backstitch by hand a dozen times in each. Laughing she said that she would bet her thesis that these shoelaces now with probably several dozen knots each pulled incredibly tight by her and sewn up unbelievably tight by her would not loosen up or come undone in either of our lifetimes. She said to say Hello whenever I visit our local library. God bless kindness of strangers!!
    Warm regards, Cindy

  4. Anonymous4/23/2011

    I am librarian who tied Cindy's shoelaces. She got pair of New Balance sneakers and I knotted them up for her with the tightest possible knots I could possibly do. The laces were just so incredibly long it took me two hours to get shoelaces into really tight, safe, secure tiny knots that would never possibly untie. We were not at all busy today in library. I got these masterpieces much neater and tighter than the last time with her boat shoes.
    Her cardiologist had her wearing Holter monitor that had come untied and she has to bring it back on Monday. It had these really, really long stretchy bungee-like ties so I tied them in a huge ball of the tightest knots ever so her heart test results would be accurate. They are checking for arrythymias and PVCs. The poor techician only tied a weak, anemic double bow that easily came undone. Thank God I was here for Cindy. I left note with Cindy to give to technician apologizing that she will have to probably cut the Holter off.
    Best of luck to Cindy
    Emily, librarian