God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.” – Exodus 3:5 (MSG)
At a recent meeting, the centering activity snatched my attention. The leader invited attendees to imagine this scenario (greatly paraphrased with some creative liberties): You’re on your way to a long-awaited event that’s been postponed since 2020. You’re quietly enjoying your ride to the venue when a fiery red Japanese maple in someone’s front yard catches your attention. You suddenly realize you forgot to prepare the event’s opening reflection entitled “Barefooted Blessings” based on Exodus 3:5! Your ridesharing app says you’re two minutes away. What will you say?
The leader set a timer and we pondered. After two minutes, we shared our reflections. Some attendees offered descriptions of historically meaningful ministry places, evoking oft-missed holy encounters within the ordinary. Others freestyled concise yet profound sentences. Still others wrote brief prose or linked barefooted blessings with their current work against various injustices. All of them poetic and powerful!
I was (and am still!) so moved by engaging the exercise that I’m inviting you to do the same. I’ll go first:
All pandemic long, I’ve forgotten how to wear shoes. With cameras capturing just my upper half in meetings, my sweatpants and flip flops enter spaces that would’ve never been allowed pre-pandemic. The world is gradually opening back up and even as I’m out here in these fancy two-year-old-yet-still-brand-new shoes, I’m looking forward to returning, taking off my shoes, and allowing my naked feet to sigh and sink into the carpet of my safe and sacred space called home.
Now it’s your turn. Set a two-minute timer and ponder. What will you say?
Whether physically, theologically, literarily, and/or vocationally, in so many ways we are barefooted and blessed. Thanks be to God!
The Rev. Phiwa Langeni is the Ambassador for Innovation & Engagement of the United Church of Christ. They are also the Founder of Salus Center, the only LGBTQ resource and community center in Lansing, MI.