The grass isn’t fully greened up yet, but it’s close. Summer’s nearly here.
Come August, the parched turf will be crunchy and dry, but in late spring it’s perfect. Soft, green, and cool under my feet.
I’m a barefoot kind of girl.
I’ve spent summer sans shoes for as long as I can remember. As a girl I ran through the neighborhood on bare feet, soles turning calloused and black as the days wore on. I knew how to navigate my way over a heat-scorched Texas sidewalk, stepping cautiously on out-turned feet and doing it quick — like a dance over hot coals — because who needed shoes? I remember the scourge of the burrs in our backyard grass that would stick into my tender heels and cause me to cry out in pain.
But it was never bad enough to make me go inside for shoes.
I wanted to walk barefoot through the grass.
There’s something grounding about the soles of your feet touching the earth. Feeling the sod through those sensitive nerve endings, the appendages we too often take for granted — until we stub the pinky toe and wail, questioning why on earth so much pain can emanate from one tiny and seemingly insignificant digit.
The voice of God in the burning bush told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.
And I’m not so sure the command doesn’t apply to us as well.
A few weeks ago, I purchased a set of wearable prayer beads, and — using the guide that came with them — began reciting portions of the prayer from St. Patrick’s breastplate as part of my morning quiet time.
Have you heard these words?
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me. . .”
Did you catch the unexpected phrase, just tossed in there as though it makes perfect sense? It’s the line that makes my heart skip a beat every time.
Christ beneath me.
Why have I never thought of Christ as being beneath me as well as above me?
If God is truly omnipresent, all around us, through us, in us — if it is indeed in Him that we live and move and have our being — then why wouldn’t we notice Him beneath our feet?
Christ beneath me.
No wonder there’s something holy about touching feet to ground. No wonder the Psalmist says, “You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.”
We always want to look up to find God. Up is where the rainbow is. It’s where we count the stars and behold the lightning. We see God’s power displayed in tremendous and mighty ways when we look up.
But what if we could find him just as easily by looking down?
By connecting our lowermost extremities with the holiness of the earth walked by the body of Jesus himself?
- Does the love of God extend so far that he is willing to make himself low, to lay himself out like a plush carpet, to inhabit the very blades of cool summer grass where I place my feet?
- Is he present in the pearlescent dewdrops adorning the sod like jewels in the morning sun?
- Is his love so warm, so spacious, so all-encompassing that it’s able to wrap the entire planet, enveloping it like a welcome blanket for the feet of his beloved children?
I believe it is.
Listen to the words of the poet Rumi:
I want to be where your bare foot walks,
Because maybe before you step you’ll look at the ground.
I want that blessing.”
This is a poem for lovers, yes. But Jesus is the lover of our souls, yours and mine. He is the author of love.
Would a God who longs for fellowship with us, who desires constant contact, who invites us to abide in Him. . . not also go to great lengths to connect with us in the humblest of ways?
Because maybe before we step we’ll look at the ground and see him there.
He wants that blessing.
The blessing of knowing his children see him in every blade of grass. In every tiny step.
The Barefoot Gospel
I don’t think it’s an accident that the words “soul” and “sole” are nearly the same.
Walk out into the cool night grass this evening. Take off your shoes and stand there, as Moses did, on holy ground. Feel the earth beneath your feet as you wiggle your toes and look up at the sky. Know that — small as you are — you are a part of God’s creation, adhered to the ground by gravity through the soles of your feet.
Now look down. See the connection. He wants that blessing.
Utter the words, “Christ beneath me.” Breathe deep and know He is God.
This is the barefoot gospel.
It’s good news for the highest of kings and the lowest of servants. We’re connected to it every day, if we will only take notice.
Take off your shoes. You’re standing on holy ground.
And just because you know what a music geek I am, here’s a recording of composer David Childs’ choral setting of Rumi’s poem. I had the privilege of playing this for a choir a few weeks ago at contest. Absolutely lovely.