Clues speak to true character

Patti Dobson

Patti Dobson

By Patti Dobson

Religion columnist

Sometimes, we can be fooled by outside appearances.
A person’s exterior can be bright and shiny, yet hide mean-spiritedness. We may be so dazzled by what someone shows on the outside that we miss important clues that speak to someone’s character.

The opposite is true as well. We may be so put off by someone’s outward grumpiness that we miss the gentle soul hidden beneath all of the crabbiness.
Take Ray Eskridge, for example. By all accounts, he’s just this side of curmudgeonly. He is pretty cranky, even a tad on the crotchety side. His steely gaze is a little off-putting, and his mannerisms more than a bit terse.
Until you step back, and take a closer look.

Ray is dancing through his 70s. Retired from military service, he had a second career dabbling in retail. And then he retired “for real.” Daily, he fights chronic illness and chronic pain. He has to concentrate, hard, to keep from falling. He moves with purpose because to do otherwise could spell disaster.
He puts up a good front. However, underneath his weathered exterior beats a servant’s heart. When there’s a need, there’s Ray. He’s the first to tell you that he can’t “do” the things he used to do, and that he hates to shop. But, he can give a little cash to help a family make ends meet, if someone will shop for him. He can donate a chair so that a new family to town has enough places to sit, if someone can pick it up. He can contribute some nonperishable food items, if someone will come get them. He has a stash of magazines and books to be used in military care packages.

As far as being crusty, he’s all bark no bite. When I popped over to pick up some donated items, I thanked him and told him that he’s a good-hearted guy. His response? “Don’t tell anyone; I’ve got a reputation to keep.”
That you do, Ray; that you do.

Patti Dobson writes about faith for the Portales News-Tribune. Contact her at: