An image from a Mass reflection given by one of the retreat directors earlier this week keeps coming back to me. The first reading in Mass that day was the scene in Exodus where God tells Moses He wants to send him to Pharaoh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But before giving Moses his charge, God instructs him to remove the sandals from his feet, as he is standing on holy ground.
Now I love going barefoot. The minute I walk into my house (or anyone else’s for that matter) the first thing I do is take off my shoes. And the last thing I do before leaving the house is to put my shoes on. I don’t really think a whole lot about it.
The person giving the reflection made me think about it a little differently. She talked about how important the feet are in certain professions. Ask anyone who has worked retail or as a waiter/waitress how much their feet matter. The same was true for Moses, who spent his days in the fields with the flock. Protecting his feet was important.
For Moses, being asked to take off his shoes was not a request for a meaningless act to show respect. Rather, God asked him to willingly rid himself that which protected the part of his body he needed to protect to do his job. In other words – to make himself vulnerable before God.
I think that is an important thing for us to realize, especially because usually when we are taking off our shoes it is to walk on carpet, a clean floor or well-tended grass. Not a whole lot of vulnerability there.
A good question for us to ask ourselves is: what does it mean for us to go barefoot before God? What does it mean for us to stand vulnerable before God? Whatever it means, it is certainly a lot more than physically baring our feet.
Perhaps an even better question is: what make us hesitate to go barefoot before God? What are we trying to protect?