Getting Heeled.

by Gordon C. Harris


It is 8:00 am on a Saturday and I am in the bathroom. In Walmart. My son is on the floor with his leg in the air, foot resting on my right hand. My other hand is dabbing a damp clump of toilet paper on his heel. He’s holding his bloody sock and asking me how to get it clean. I’m a bit distracted with my Florence Nightingale routine, so I have trouble sticking to his question: “I don’t know … maybe warm water … to keep the blood from … umm … setting … But by the time we get home, … it will be too late …”


What started as our usual weekend DVD and grocery outing has taken a sharp left turn. On Friday, my son decided to wear his black steel-toed shoes to work. They are beautiful shoes, but they give him blisters. It’s not clear whether the shoes are too big, fit badly, or have been tied too loosely. Whatever the issue is, our Saturday morning routine is now stalled and I am cleaning the skin on his heel. From the amount of blood, it looks like he’s been attacked by a serial killer, but the wound proves to be surprisingly small. Overnight the blister had started to heal, however the friction from his regular shoe has ripped off the scab. Now I realize his foot needs attention. I peel back the film and stick a tough, wide strip of bandage on his heel. The bloody sock goes back on before his shoe and then we are off to pay for the bandages. 


It makes me think about all our injuries, especially the internal ones. Sometimes we wear someone else’s expectations or perform for love and acceptance. Sometimes, it is just life and wear, the grinding of events against the skin of our hearts. And those unfortunate “sometimes” produce an injury. We try to pretend nothing happened. Ignore it. Just go on with life. But the old injury just keeps cracking open, spilling ourselves out. Making a mess. And that never really works. Our insides need us to pay attention to the actual wound. Treat it with truth and soft words, sometimes with actual hands. And only then can we go on to live the way we were meant to live. Only then can we be heeled.