Most of my life I’ve loathed shoes. Remembering Jeremy Irons’ priest in The Mission walking barefoot into the jungle, something about his barefootedness struck me. Immense humility, a comfort with a deliberate choice of poverty, and, most powerful to me, a direct connection to the earth.
Those comprise elements I’ve tried to interweave throughout my life, with varying success. Yet they reflect my deepest values. Consider the time I spent trying to minister to the needs of Seattle’s street people, though my shoes remained on. I tried to adopt a life of focused poverty, to mixed success. The fact it was a choice, on my part, isolated me. I deeply felt myself to be a interloper, though not by any action of unwelcome. But my simple ignorance of their life, of the basics of survival within that world, eventually proved too strong a barrier.
I still deeply believe in voluntary simplicity. The world cannot support all humanity with the West’s level of affluence. Backing away from our immense consumption is critical for creating a truly just world. Though I’m not terribly humble, I’ve at least developed a flair for understatement and a non-confrontational style that sort of passes. And I still avoid shoes as much as possible, though wearing flip-flips instead of baring my feet. So, perhaps, I’ve captured these pieces. At least, I hope, their essence.