Friday, August 20, 2010

Watch Your Feet

I have been thinking about feet. I am not sure why.

It may have started when I was at the doctor’s office. A woman came in wearing sandals designed to catch the eye—there was a HUGE daisy on the strap—and when I looked, I noticed that each of her toenails was painted a different color. Okay.

A bride-to-be came to discuss her wedding. She had stars tattooed on the side of her foot. “Tell me about that,” I said open-endedly, hoping to unearth a nugget of psychic ore we might smelt me in our counseling sessions with her fiancĂ©.
“It’s pretty,” she said. “Oh,” I replied. EOD.

Last week, when my wife went to the dermatologist to have a mole examined (it was nothing, thank God), he said that the moles she (and others) really needed to keep a watch on were the moles on her feet! Who knew?

Anyway, I have been thinking about feet, remembering how, when God called Abram to leave his father and homeland and work in Ur, to start with his wife Sarai toward a land and a future and a heritage they could not possibly imagine, God said, “Go, and I will show you…”

Abram could not wait for clarity before he mustered his courage. He could find the way ahead only by taking it. Abram did as he was commanded, of course, and Sarai too, and ever since their first obedient steps tired and calloused feet have been a sign and symbol of our faith—outward and visible expressions of hope and trust and grace.

When Jesus called his disciples, whether by one’s or two’s, their feet took them away from home and family and work to traipse after him first in Galilee, then into Samaria (where few Jewish feet willfully ventured), and finally south into Judah and Jerusalem. Later, Jesus declared that with the Spirit’s help their feet would take them back to all the places they had been and to more besides—into all the world—and not just as his followers this time but as his representatives. Their thick-soled feet, as much as his ruined ones, would prove to be beautiful on account of the lengths to which they went to spread the Good News of the Gospel.

Used to, preachers would say if you want to know who you really are, as opposed to who you think you are, take a close look at your calendar and your checkbooks. In other words, look closely at how you spend your time and money. These days preachers should tell folk to check their BlackBerrys (lest they prove what many of their people already guess, that preachers and their counsel are behind the times, hopelessly obsolete).

Frederick Buechner suggests, on the other hand, that people to check their feet, not dermatologically but theologically. Want to know who you really are? What you really value? Just see where your feet take you in a day, or a week, or a lifetime.


Jeannie said...

I agree—paying attention to our feet could tell us a lot! Thanks for directing our attention to these underappreciated appendages. Here's a good blog about bare feet:

Ian Howarth said...

Tom, I really enjoy your reflections. I used your 'decent image' story at a funeral recently. Hope you don't mind.

Ian- South Africa

Tom Steagald said...

Hey, Ian. I am so gratified! And Jack would be too! Thanks for reading.