Shoes

I bent over and tied the strings of the shoes and took my first couple of tentative steps in these new dress shoes. Well, new is not right. They are used but they are new to me. A color that is somewhere between Oxford and brown. Soles that are made to last or shoesat the very least be replaced when they wear out.

The first step was a bit odd. There was some tightness on the top of my right foot and I wondered if this was going to be a permanent rubbing spot of if the shoes would mold their way over from their old owner to me. I knew before the day was done, the shoes were still pliable.

What I really wondered about was whether the new owner was pliable as well.

These original owner of these shoes was not a pastor, but I have to say that throughout my life I never met a man who was more an advocate for his pastor than the owner of these shoes. I recall a time that one of his pastors came under attack by anonymous letters and he stood from the pulpit and said, “I will be checking the mail from now on, folks. And any letters that come to this church without return addresses or signatures will go in the trash.” Far as I know, the original owner of the shoes made good on that promise, for the attacks died away and the pastor continued leading in peace.

I recall one time when I came under some criticism as the pastor of the owner of the shoes and this time, he set out to order a load of horse manure and have it dumped on the front yard of the leader of these antagonists. His wife talked him out of it but I found out he had the price and was ready to write the check to have it done.

The original owner of these shoes was no pastor, but he knew what it meant to care for a pastor, advocate for a pastor, and even be angry for that pastor when the pastor could not do it on his own.

The original owner of these shoes was no preacher but he knew a good sermon when he heard it and gave praise where praise was due. The only problem was, you needed to know his scale of praise.

One week, while this shoe owner was out fishing with his family, he caught a fairly impressive 12 inch trout. He was quite proud of that catch and had his picture made with it. A little later in the day, his wife managed to land a 15 inch monster of a trout. The owner of the shoes looked at the fish and said, “Well, that’s decent, I guess.”

Preachers needed to know this. A “good” sermon was just okay, but chances are, if you hit one out of the ballpark, the owner of the shoes would tell you, “That was decent.”

The owner of the shoes which I put on for the first time yesterday, was not a perfect man but he was a man that was after God’s own heart. I cannot count the number of times I saw him sitting in a chair, Bible open, coffee at his side, eyes closed in prayer. Sometimes the shoes would be on. Sometimes they would be off. But this owner of the shoes knew he needed to walk where Jesus walked.

I put the shoes on yesterday and I wear them again today knowing that these are my Dad’s shoes. He passed away in December and my mom cleaned out his closet and asked me if I wanted these shoes – if they fit okay, that is.

Well, they go on my feet just fine. They tie up nice and neat and have even garnered a compliment or two. But I have a feeling it will take me quite some time before they really fit. Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. But at least I will have the reminder of what Dad was and what I can be.

Tomorrow, I think I will wear them again.

 

Eyes to See

image

Crocus

A Spring flower pokes through the ground…
And one sees the end of all winter;
One sees a sign of hope;
One sees a fragile creature doomed to the next bite of frost.

Pushing up through the ground in search of the sun,
This little one
Perseveres.

Some see it as a thing for them –
To admire,
To analyze,
To determine the worth and valor.

But maybe, just maybe, this little one
Who chooses a journey
Many wise ones would dare not take
Is the one who really finds the presence of God –
In sunshine,
A breeze,
Warm dirt,
Even in the passing shadow of a photographer.

It amazes me what some people see,
Because they always look outward for signs of God’s presence.
They only share what’s inside in
A hope fueled by vanity
To cultivate or force faith upon another.
Some never venture into the Resurrection that lies within –
the scary place
Of dormant seasons
Crawling worms,
Earthy smells
And long waits.

What does the crocus see on its journey?

What does the missionary see as they journey to new places?

Is God only found in what we describe or is profundity procured perfectly when we look inside for peace.

Served Two Ways

I can see righteousness…

in those who claim to do no wrong…

who hold the commandments

for all to see.

Who work without ceasing to have them posted

on walls

in courts

on public ground.

Who stand beside the written word of God

And silence the voices

Of women…of those perceived as created unequal…

Who silence the voices of the very ones who listen to the Word

but choose to bow to the Author, not the reader.

 

And I see righteousness…

    In those who stand beside:

the one about to die for crimes…

the couple whose love is shunned…

the homeless one whose whole buggy-bound world

    cannot be found in this world at all…

the one who is dying while holding the hand of her

    crying, angry child…

their husband of sixty-five years

    and steal a kiss in public…

no one in particular, but who stand:

    in love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness

    and self-control.

 

I see righteousness served two ways:

    From the hubris that is potently human;

    And from the very Spirit of Jesus

        that lives within.

 

 

For more please see Romans 6:8-11

 

 

My Home Among the Hills

wpid-PaperArtist_2014-03-24_11-00-46.jpegBased on Luke 4:24-30

Inspired by http://www.pray-as-you-go.org

Yeah, I am a child of the mountains –
a “West-By-God-Virginian.”

But why do I build my city on a hill?

Is it the place where I best see –
the danger coming
the glorious sunrise
the gathering storms
the grandest views of creation?

Or is it just the place
where even when I don’t feel safe…

I can force those who assail
my foundation
my beliefs
my worldview
to the edge of a precipice
where they can view their doom.

I build my city on a hill
but I often forget.

The cliff is not there for my enemies
or the prophets who unsettle me.
It is there for me…
to shout until the Word echoes
to step off…
to fail, to fall, and to flail.

And to find myself
in the very hand of God.