Go without shoes

Published 12:29 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

There’s a picture I rediscovered a few months ago. My mom must have snapped it behind my back, and somehow, it recently ended up making its way back to me.

In the picture, I must’ve been sixteen or so. My hair was in two braids, I was in that white tank top I used to love, and I didn’t have shoes on. It was at my old house, the one I grew up in, and I was strolling along our porch, my back to the camera, one hand twisting the tail end of my braid. Flowers were blooming. The green around me was lush.

Dear diary: I walked outside barefoot last week.

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It was an easy afternoon, and the sun warmed my skin as I got to comfortably wear shorts and a tee shirt that was too big. A mug of coffee in hand, my hair roped into a side braid, I put my shoeless feet in the grass and realized how soft they’d become after years of being inside, covered in socks, forgetting to explore.

When did I grow up? When did the calluses on my body vanish? Running into the yard used to be a muscle memory. Now I have to check the weather app on my phone.

Excuse me. . . I meant to say used to. I used to check the weather app on my phone. Nowadays, in my phase of embracing the season I used to hate most, I endure the chill in the springtime air and the yellow dust.

In honor of reverting to the tender age of sixteen, I tied my hair into a side braid this week, surprised by how long it had grown. I practiced archery like I used to. And I sought a lot of peace in nature. Loose clothes. No shoes. 

Two years ago, when I was pursuing my Year of New Things, I attempted a “becoming one with nature” thing. For miles, I hiked until my knees ached and my feet blistered. Turns out, I was throwing myself into God’s creation; I wasn’t being comfortable in it.

Psalm 95: 4-5 says, “In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.”

I’m always hearing wisdom from people older than I am. But let me offer my older readers some 24-year-old advice: return to God’s creation. Go slowly and go without shoes.

The child inside of you will thank you. 

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