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Archive for August, 2012

FEET

   

   

   

     “Slow down, you move too fast.
     You got to make the morning last.
     Just kicking down the cobble stones.
     Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy…”

Simon and Garfunkle

I sported band-aids on one knee or other on a regular basis from age three to ten. My mother said I bloodied my knees because I was always in a hurry. Running when I should be walking. Not paying attention. For the rest of her life, she remarked that I was “always so busy.” Sometimes I think this was a thinly-veiled compliment or even a sign of mild envy that I had a lot going on, but more often criticism that I was      heedless somehow. I thought I was just excited about life and eager to get to the next thing.

In early and mid-adulthood, I was strictly a high-heels girl but this slowed me down not a whit. I trotted around Blake in my red leather pumps, sailed down the aisle at St. John the Baptist in my black patent leather Easter heels, and wore two-inch wedged sandals to the swimming pool with the kids. Loved them.

I’m a tall person so I definitely do not have Cinderella-feet. Growing up, I got the impression this was a shameful quality, and admit to resorting to buying shoes a half-size too small because my real size looked gigantic to my sensitive, teen eyes. Later, teaching Women’s Studies and studying the Chinese custom of foot-binding, I learned that the painful binding of young girls’ feet at age seven so they would be forever tiny and therefore sexy (each culture defines “sexy”), also slowed the women down in various ways. Who could run away or move rapidly towards anything when you could only mince along? So only rich women got their feet bound; the others had to work.

I decided I had woman feet, not girl feet and that my culture’s efforts to make women small and “cute” were not going to work on me! At one point, I informed the manager of the shoe department at Dayton’s that their policy of not carrying larger sizes for women was sexist and that women were taller (and therefore had larger feet) now and they could improve sales if they wised up.

Okay, so I was young….

Feet are often considered funny appendages: smelly feet, big feet, clumsy feet (falling over your own feet), awkward feet (putting “your foot in your mouth”). My dad’s side of the family had such wretched feet (bunions, corns, and all matter of deformities) that my brother and I would ask our aunts and uncle to take off their shoes so we could be horrified and scream — a breath-taking gesture of rudeness, in retrospect.

Then I had big-time chemotherapy.

It was five years ago and it wasn’t too bad, really; I was very lucky. Yet one of the after-effects has been with my feet. Neuropathy—periodic pain and numbness, usually experienced by much older people.

Of course, there are drugs. They help a lot except at unpredictable moments the numbness occurs and I have to stop and be mindful of where I put each foot so I don’t trip on my own feet. It’s embarrassing and maddening and yet a small price in the big scheme of things.

So now I move more mindfully, sometimes more slowly than I would like. I also notice more things, and feel more connected to other people for some reason, maybe because I can’t race by as quickly.

Feet aren’t funny to me anymore.

But I’m still “feeling groovy.”

Here is Bishop Steve Charleston’s meditation which sustains me more than I can say and I hope touches you as well:

“How must I look to you, O God, coming to you every Sunday, dressed in all my pomp and circumstance? Beneath my robes do you not see me, a little boy with a scraped knee, so proud he survived the loss of a tooth, with dirty fingernails and grass stains on his knees? As a child I began this journey. As a child I shall reach journey’s end. No need for vanity along the way. No need for pretense or ego or any of the brave fronts we put on to impress ourselves before time’s patient mirror. Beneath it all the One who made us, sees us for who we are and always shall be.”

See you in church.

Barbara

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