: with the feet bare
Are you a shoes on or shoes off kind of person? I've never been much for going barefoot. Even as a kid, I was likely to slide on my flip flops before heading outside. As I write this, I am sitting in my own home, nearly ready for bed, with shoes on my feet. I'm totally uncomfortable with taking my shoes off in someone else's home, no matter what color their carpet is. So I'm clearly a shoes on kind of girl, but yesterday at church I started thinking about whether this is yet another change I should contemplate in my life. (Especially with change being my word for 2010...)
Why did church make me start thinking about going barefoot a bit more often? Well, the passage concerned Joshua being told to remove his sandals because he was on holy ground. Now, my pastor talked a bit about how being barefoot is an invitation to blessing. Even I - a girl who will choose cool boots over bare feet any day - think the beach is simply made for enjoying sans shoes. So I can get that there's a component of living life to its fullest in going barefoot.
But that's not the first thing I think of when I hear a command to take my shoes off. The first thing I think of is how vulnerable I will feel and will be without shoes. I'm sure this says something about the degree of fear I live with - and have lived with for most of my life. I'm afraid to even take my shoes off, even in the presence of God.
This is not a completely irrational fear. We do wear shoes to protect us. But as I contemplated my aversion to going barefoot, it occurred to me that there are probably blessings I miss out on because I'm afraid to live life with abandon. I am cautious, hesitant and deliberate. I venture only on the safe, well-worn paths. And even then, I like to be properly shod.
What might going barefoot a bit more look like? I'm not sure what it might look like for you, but for me I think it means trying things that make me uncomfortable, but that feel right nonetheless. (Exhibit A of this type of behavior will occur when I speak at a women's retreat later this month - a looming event that increasingly makes me feel like I am about to jump off of a cliff.) It also means being willing to dawdle when a grassy field or stretch of sandy beach presents itself. I'm far to quick to stay focused on the task at hand and forgo the pleasures of sinking my toes into something.
In an attempt to actually implement some of the changes I think about, ponder and write about, I spent a bit of time on this gorgeous middle Tennessee day to sit in the grass barefoot. Two daughters sat with me, quietly doing their homework so that they could dash off to the playground and enjoy the afternoon with wild abandon. I must admit it was nice. I didn't read. I didn't talk. I didn't mentally plan what I should do with the rest of my day. I tried to just experience life, barefoot, for a while. And it was worth trying.
photo by David S. April Photography