Our school is collecting shoes. One of my National Honor Society members heard about this group which takes old and used shoes that just clutter up the bottom of closets and puts them to good use that eventually causes water wells to be drilled in third world nations. She suggested we have a shoe drive for this semester's service project, and I thought it was a great idea. The whole process seems to be a bit of a miracle: once collected, the shoes are given a second life when this group exports the donated shoes to retailers in the developing world. The resale of shoes provides jobs and affordable footwear. Funds generated from the export of shoes provides well drilling rigs, water purification systems, and hand pump repair businesses bringing clean, fresh water.
So, because of this I have a pile of shoes in my classroom. It's sort of amazing how cleaning out one's cluttered shoe closet (I DON'T have a closet just for shoes... really!) can help people I will never meet. Seeing all these shoes, though, gets me to wondering who wore them and what stories about their owners those shoes would tell if they could (those that have tongues, at least) (and no, I couldn't have avoided that horrible pun....). After all, our shoes do sort of tell on us--about what kind of person we are, what our goals are, and what we're up to that day (or night). A person whose closet is filled with tennis shoes is likely very different than a person with a closet filled with strappy high-heeled sandals. What kind of shoes we buy and wear (or buy and never wear) can reveal who we are.
Having all these shoes in my room reminds me of that famous quote in Forest Gump: "My momma always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they go, where they've been." I've always thought Forest's mother had some great wisdom there. We CAN tell a lot about a person by his or her shoes. That quote also reminds me of a poem I wrote around this time (Lent, Good Friday, Easter) last year, as I used part of it as the title.
“You can tell a lot about a person..."
I’ve protected these Feet for many good years;
Holding myself together, now as I take the last few steps
I think of my journey.
I walked up and down this country of Promise—
Dusty roads, with rocks that wore out and punished
Even sturdy leather.
I walked through barley fields and deserts,
Rested by wells in foreign countries, spent many nights
On board fishing vessels.
I supported Him through varied surfaces.
I’ve walked in rain, on water, in sand, on mountains,
In temples, on stone.
I was removed by adoring, tender hands
To honor His feet: washing, anointing them until
Even I absorbed the spill.
I enjoyed the previous walks in this garden,
Where grass and flowers perfumed the air at each step,
But now it’s not the same.
I understand anger, having kicked over tables,
But anger towards the Man I carry is unwarranted,
Unjust and quite unfair.
I remember the days from when I was new,
Toting lumber across a shop, but this beam is a weight,
A burden, never born before.
I’ve dragged on this last journey, since pain
And blood comes mingled down with his sweat;
I am slippery inside.
I stumble the last few steps, for, despite the help
He received, He is weighed down by more than wood.
It is not long now.
I am undone and stripped away from His beautiful feet—
Feet that bring Good News—thrown at the foot of the beam,My journey finished.