A person’s shoes: Where have they walked in them?

One of the things I am most grateful for in my work and ministry is being able to walk with people in their struggles in life.  It might be marital problems, health problems in their own lives or in one of their family members. It might be a work-related issue.  Issues can vary far and wide.  I am also grateful when I can be a vehicle who enables consolation in their hearts.  When they show appreciation, I am grateful.  One of the things that I’m least grateful for is not being appreciated and verbally devalued (can be either by colleagues or bosses). For me, this places me in a desolate place.

Think about shoes–yes, ordinary dirty pairs of shoes–and to ponder on where each person’s shoes might have taken them. We don’t know where a person might have walked.  They might have walked in places thousands of miles away and we would have no idea of what their experiences were like.  The person is potentially a storehouse of valuable insights but we fail to ask them to share with us from their experiences of what they have learned. We don’t take the time, and we don’t care to.

This is also an area where I have failed, as well.  I have failed to ask more about the experiences of my friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues.  I have failed to take the time to ask and sit down and listen.  I am needing to learn and to become a vessel to which they can pour into. For these things I confess. In Prayers of Boundless Compassion (p.12), Rupp writes as a prayer with which I pray along:

Holy One of the Burning Bush, like Moses we take off our shoes.  We are in awe of your presence, not in a fiery bush but in the heart of each human being.  Deepen our respect for one another’s history of experience, the unique personality and diverse giftedness.  Heal us of quick judgments that are often untrue.  In our relationship with all people may we approach them with respect and a sincere desire to hallow their sacred journey.  Together we stand before you, Holy One aflame in our hearts.  May we walk in peace with each person who comes our way.”

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