From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Barefoot mantra: One, two, unbuckle that shoe

(By Lorenz Kerscher)
Walking from darkness to light can be greatly accelerated when doing so with bare feet.  That could be why some religions have stressed the removal of shoes for worship and other purposes.

Wikipedia reports that the “ancient Greeks largely viewed footwear as self-indulgent, unaesthetic, and unnecessary.”  Their Olympian athletes were not only barefoot, but also naked. It is therefore not surprising that their gods were usually depicted without footwear.  Although Alexander the Great’s barefoot army managed to conquer half the ancient world, the Romans believed that shoes (and clothing in general) were signs of civilized power.  This might partially account for the many biblical references to shoes.

What did President George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II have in common?  The short answer is that they both walked barefoot around the Raj Ghat monument to Mahatma Gandhi in order to show their respect for him.  Just as Romans Catholics often honor the Pope by kissing his feet, Hindus often honor the guru by touching his or her bare feet (the practice of pranam).  Muslims wash their feet before worship and prayers, and Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the time of The Last Supper.  Some Jews and Christians go barefoot while mourning.

Bare feet are also associated with vows of poverty and humility.  Thai Buddhist monk Master Jinshen walks 12 barefoot miles per day in order “to develop his Buddhist spirit,” as well as to remind people to “protect and be concerned for Mother Nature.”  The Book of Exodus tells us that God asked Moses “to remove his shoes before approaching the burning bush.”  Wikipedia also reports that there are barefoot or scantily shod Christian congregations such as the Discalced Carmelites, the Trinitarians, and the Passionists.

Contemporary Wise Woman Susun Weed, in her November 15, 2011 newsletter column, also sings the virtues of freeing those feet.  She states, “I love to let my bare feet inform me” - and then offers these explanations:  First, they let me know how my health is…  Second, my bare feet bring me the energy of the earth…  Third, my bare feet cause me to slow down and to pay attention to my surroundings…  Fourth, my bare feet remind me that every step is a blessing.

And the Fourth shall be First…

So, unbuckle up!


 Copyright November 20, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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