April 8, 2010

One Day Without Shoes

We are barefoot again this year. Yesterday, I reminded the kids of our shoeless day last year. They remembered and were eager to make some plans for today. I went to bed wondering what we could possibly do. Evidently, I was more troubled by this lack of plan than I realized because I was plagued with shoeless nightmares.

I despise pointless endeavors. There are some things that, even when we plan and have the best intentions are absolutely pointless. If we were completely honest with ourselves I think we could just skip the whole painful thing. I guess I'm teetering on the edge of "what does walking around my house without shoes do for the little guy in Ethiopia who can't get a pair of shoes to save his life?"

I don't want to be an advertisement for Toms shoes. No, I think we can do better than that. Do we need another pair of shoes--is the company a success because of the feel good-trendy shoe they sell? Though the company is doing far more than most shoe companies...I suppose my ad would be "If you have to buy another pair of shoes, buy from TOMS."

Should we take part in a TOMS event? Except the local event is organized by a guy who's picture resembles The Joker on a bad day. His brief explanation of the event includes a few words that are NOT allowed around our house. Do I honestly think taking our children to the outdoor mall barefoot to play hacky sack will benefit anyone?

I guess I'm feeling rather cynical.

After tossing and turning all night I bring up the youtube video I watched last year. The kids gather around and we see what can happen to people in Ethiopia when they cannot get good shoes. What now? We are barefoot, have no plans, and it's 55 and rainy here.

We make the obvious decision, of course. We should take a walk! We put on jackets and cuff our pants. Josiah's exceptionally happy about "walking outside on our toes." We got from the door to the driveway and he had to be picked up. It was cold. It was wet. It wasn't delightful like the pictures of Venice on the sponsor website. Ella stubbed her toe before we left our yard. So far, the lesson we are learning is that walking around barefoot on a nasty day is unpleasant. Then, we see the long stretch of sidewalk ahead and nary a soul wants to actually walk to the corner. But we challenge ourselves and remind each other that we really don't have to walk without shoes. We drive most places and only go barefoot when it's fun. We press on and make the block. I glimpse a woman peering from her picture window at our unsightly parade. Wet, cold, barefoot children are an oddity in any middle class neighborhood.

Meanwhile, at home something very special was waiting for us. It gave purpose to the walk down the street. It was directly from God via a little boy in Ethiopia. An hour earlier or later and the impact would have been lost. The Lord's timing is impeccable. We all stumble into the house with numb feet from the cold. After rubbing them dry, I pull out an envelope from the mail.

Our sponsor child sent us a drawing. "Thank you family" colored in yellow. Big excitement broke out and we had to look at his picture again. What does he like to do? How old is he again? Does he always look so sad? Does he always have a runny nose? Does he play soccer? Then, inevitably...

"Does J have shoes?"


He will soon, thanks to the hard work of many wonderful people. This brought it home for all of us. We walked barefoot in the rain because we wanted to. As an experiment. Many children like J go without much more than shoes as a way of life. This little envelope lead us to a discussion about what we are doing to help J and his friends. It's such a small thing, I wouldn't dare call it a sacrifice. But to them, it is making a huge difference.

Sally and Elijah immediately began coloring pictures to send to J. I think around here, the small thing we did today made a difference for them.


Karen said...

I just audibly gasped ... you got a letter from "J"??? I'm so thrilled. And what perfect timing. Thanks for sharing! blessings - Karen Wistrom www.family-from-afar.blogspot.com

Carpenters said...

We haven't participated in the day without shoes, but I've often wondered if we're just justifying purchasing something because part of our purchase will go to fund a charitable cause. Could we just go without said item and donate all the money to help? Thanks for the reminder and perspective, Apryl.

P.S. Love the "walking outside on our toes" quote. Very cute Josiah.