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A Small Miracle Passed By Me Today

Floyd L. Hedges, 32°

Recently, I made one of my regular trips, from Oklahoma City’s India Shrine Temple to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport, Louisiana. The trip is nearly 800 miles there and back, and we make up to eight such trips weekly to the Shrine Hospitals in Galveston, Texas, or Shreveport. I had brought three children on this trip, mostly for their regular orthopaedic appointments. As was customary, I was strolling by the various clinics, just keeping an eye out for my kids. As I passed the orthotics clinic, I noticed that Steve Rink, the orthotic technician, was fitting a small child with a very special brace, one he had personally made for her hips and legs.

Steve and I had discussed this type of brace on a previous trip, but this was the first time I saw one being applied. This frail child was five years old and was about to walk for the first time in her life. Steve stood the child up on the table as he was making his final adjustment—tightening the hips here, loosening the feet there. Then, without warning, he calmly stepped back. The child was surprised. She was standing, alone, for the first time. The light shining from her mother’s face gave brightness to a room already well lit and was reflected in the wide eyes of the child. The little girl made some quiet whimpers, partly for happiness at something she had never seen before, and with a little wonder that mom was not reaching for her and that she wasn’t falling.

The orthotic technician’s eyes were smiling, the mother’s eyes were full, and the child’s eyes were wide. Then I noticed something in my eyes too, and I had to leave. Having added another victory to his list, Steve returned to other routine duties, and other therapists were already starting another average day of training—each one proud of his or her efforts, but also quite accustomed to the results. I was free to continue my rounds, more confirmed than ever in my response to a question so often asked, “Why do Masons do so much?” Why? Because we care. Also when asked how much we receive for such work, I am confirmed in my accounting. At the end of this trip, as with every trip, a small child has helped me to close another page in the Big Book of Life. It’s marked “Paid In Full.”

This article is reprinted with permission from The Cornerstone (Winter 1997) published quarterly for the friends and employees of Shriners Hospitals for Children, Shreveport Unit, 3100 Samford, Ave., Shreveport, LA 71103.