One Little Brown Shoe

It has been there for months. I see it every time I exit the church’s parking lot. I am not sure as to how the little, brown, Velcro-strapped shoe got there; but I am positive that it is not serving the purpose for which it was made. It lies on dry, dormant grass with no feeling of anything inside. It has been rained on, sun beaten, wind-blown, frostbitten, and probably sniffed by a stray dog or two.
The tiny shoe, once worn by a toddler, is lost. It is no longer possessed by its owner nor functions in a way that its creator designed. It lies lifeless beside a driveway where many parishioners leave from their gathering. I have thought about picking up the shoe and throwing it away; instead, I leave it as a reminder of two important realities.
People matter. One now weathered, brown shoe reminds me that “someone” used to wear it. A small boy got home that day with only one foot covered by canvass while the other was wrapped by only a thin sock. I don’t know the child’s name. I can’t see his face. I don’t know who his parents are, and I don’t know his story. All I know is that the former shoe wearer is someone who matters to God and should matter to me.
Secondly, I am reminded of the shoe’s “lostness.” Abandoned, the shoe sits fairly close to the doors of the church but never makes it inside. It powerlessly rests in a constant state, incapable of motion. It is filled with a presence, perhaps like a Spirit, that comes and goes but never takes permanent residence. Knowing of how it once felt when worn, it longs for community and relationship, only to watch people cast a glance and go on their way. Feeling discarded, rejected, and insignificant, much like some of its passersby, it realizes that these commuters are at least going somewhere while it remains alone.
Like a pair of shoes separated from one another, so is the condition of the human heart. One heart may be safe and secure, filled with a tremendous hope and future; while one heart may be like a lost shoe – desperately longing to find purpose and meaning, waiting for someone to show that he cares.

Thankful to be reminded,
John