Wednesday, April 25, 2012
What ever happened to going barefoot? Of casting aside the trusty soles the last day of school and not picking them up again for 3 months? I wasn’t alone. All of us kids did it. We rode bicycles barefoot, went to friend’s houses barefoot, we “danced” across hot pavement barefoot. In fact, about anything we did was done barefoot. Even going to town. No one would have even considered posting a “No shoes, no service” sign in their window.
Of course, along with the territory came stumped toes, bloody heels, and more splinter removals than I care to remember. One vivid memory along those lines is when I leaped smack dab into the middle of a small patch of spurs and briars in my granddaddy’s yard. No help was around to lift me out, and to this day, I can remember the painful steps I literally had to take. I also recall the afternoon my friend Cathy’s mother told us to be careful with the hoe and not chop off our toes. I obviously didn’t listen too well… (It took weeks for that toenail to finally come off.)
I guess the only time I wasn’t allowed to go barefoot was on Sundays when I went to church and then a week or so before my dance recitals. My mother said she was concerned I would stump a toe and not be able to dance. I was 5 years old, for crying out loud! I was NOT nor ever would be the Prima Dona of the stage!
And then we got older and were not allowed to come to the dinner table in our bare feet. Still haven’t figured that one out as I’m not sure at what age that becomes taboo.
I’ve also been fascinated of late to find out there are “barefoot forums” as well as a “Definitive Guide to Going Barefoot.” There is even a “Society for Barefoot Living” if you’re so inclined to join. Their motto: “Set your feet free and your mind will follow.” I like that.
So why my interest all of a sudden for going barefoot again? Maybe because I’m trying to learn to live in the NOW, and going barefoot is a great place to start.
In his book A Listening Heart, Brother David Steindl-rast writes, “To take off one’s shoes means being truly there, fully alive. The shoes or sandals we take off are made from the skin of dead animals. As long as we wear them, there is something dead between the live soles of our feet and the ground on which we are standing. To take off this deadness means taking off that familiarity which breeds contempt and boredom: it means coming alive in the primordial freshness to the place where we are.”
And so I’ve begun taking off my shoes much more often, and you know what I’m learning? That any place can be sacred ground, a place of encounter with God’s Presence. At first, it’s a specific place: like the closet I cleaned out over the weekend or the kitchen mat where I stood and cooked so many caramel icings last week. But then the feel of my bare feet on the floor becomes a quick reminder to me that I am standing on Holy ground as I encounter a God of order and simplicity; a God who can so wonderfully convert the molecular make-up of sugar and milk; a God who teaches me to wake up to this place, the timeless NOW of my life, and be present right where I am. And what I am finding is that when nothing separates my feet from the ground, the stars are brighter, the grass is greener, and worship is more real.
You may say I’m crazy, but just think about it a moment. Were you ever so free, so alive, so living in the moment as when you were as a kid … and going barefoot?
Just an ordinary moment...