Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy Feet

Everyone has been talking about resolutions. Although encouraged to make a resolution myself to start off the New Year and the 24th year of my life right, I felt blank as to what I should do. Was I supposed to think up something dramatic? Or make a goal to live up to? I felt reluctant. What’s in a New Year anyway? The days and weeks of life and work will continue to be as humdrum as now, I thought pessimistically, and I wallowed in that boring monotony of day-to-day life.

It was New Year's Eve and I was kneeling in our pew after Communion. I was still wishing for some kind of revelation about my New Year. When I opened my eyes, I saw so many pairs of feet! Shoes were parading down the aisle past my pew. Feet in brown shoes, feet in black boots, feet in clickety-clack shoes, feet in moccasins, feet of all shapes and sizes walking down the aisle together in clusters. I thought this perspective kind of comical. It was as if I was looking through a telescope that concentrated my vision on one thing: feet. Soon all these feet would be parading out of the church and into the streets of daily life. Feet look so ordinary but at the same time can do such marvelous things! In that instant, I felt comforted and inspired, as I realized that, yes, we’d all still be walking with these crosses but we were all walking this journey together!

“Perspective is really the comic element of everything,” said G.K. Chesterton. Seeing with this new perspective, I was finally able to accept and welcome the New Year. The Lord doesn’t ask the impossible of me, just that I continue to carry my cross and walk the way. That is what I’m meant to do - except for one thing. You see, I no longer have to wear those old, dirty, scuffed up shoes, worn down to the sole. I’ve got my New Year’s shoes! Bright, shiny and new! Skipping along in my New Year’s shoes, I will continue on the way, striving to live healthily, lovingly, and patiently as I endure and persevere on this course. Thankfully, I am not alone. We all have new shoes to put on.

This year I pray our paths cross. God puts everyone in our lives for a reason. This year, I am hoping that my writer friends and I may be reunited this spring for a writer’s retreat in the lush beauty of southern, coastal Georgia. There our feet will come from many miles apart to walk the historic streets together and rest on the wooden porch swing of our abode, to sit under the oaks in the yard or curl up on the sofa to pen the words of our hearts. There we little Inklings will share our writing labors, our hopes and visions, the metaphors that make us laugh over life, and the silence of solitude, of listening to the spirit’s inspiration, and then sharing meals around the table. Where our feet touch the ocean’s edge, we shall contemplate the ancient and unchanging mystery of the tide washing in, washing out, and our own feet leaving deep footprints in the sand.

From the southern sand to European soil, my feet will build bridges this year (if all goes accordingly). In August, I shall put on my pilgrim’s shoes to travel to Madrid, Spain, for World Youth Day with the Holy Father. I’ll be traveling with a group of young adults from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I love traveling, for it is in that quest we seem to find ourselves. Having taken many pilgrimages in Europe while studying abroad in Austria, I know that traveling always has an element of surprise - that unexpected discovery and adventure - but it also involves discipline and sacrifice. A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey or exercise, which has the potential to open your heart to God in a unique way. I can’t say I’m looking forward to sleeping on the ground or trekking everywhere on tired feet with backpacks in tow, but it’s all worth it to be together and witness the Church in its universality and visit places like Lourdes and Avila along the way.

And I hope my travels will keep me faithful to bringing tidings of great joy to others. Our feet should carry the message of peace wherever we go. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:15)

So I remind myself: cheer up! You've no reason to be reluctant in starting off the journey of a New Year. Whether we find ourselves fully equipped for the journey or pulled along by our friends, we’ll all find plenty to be jolly about when we find we have each other. Yes, there will be inconveniences and discomforts along the way, but as the dwarf Dwalin reassured Bilbo Baggins upon his departure in Tolkien’s novel There and Back Again:

“...don’t worry! You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey’s end. As for a hat, I have got a spare hood and cloak in my luggage” (Chp. 2).

Let’s do that for each other.

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