Monday, May 27, 2013

Barefoot and Beautiful

"I was a barefoot earth child for a couple of years." ~Isabel Lucas

"When I had no shoes I was comfortable - I used to run barefoot. When I wore shoes it was difficult." ~Haile Gebrselassie

"I found them uncomfortable and after that I decided to continue running barefoot because I found it more comfortable. I felt more in touch with what was happening - I could actually feel the track."  ~Zola Budd

My feet are always nasty.   Seriously ... crusty, cracked heels, calloused toes.  Permanently ingrained dirt. I know you were dying to know that.

Be glad I'm not posting pictures.

When we went back to the States on furlough, it took less than a month of walking on plush carpets before my feet felt "normal" again.  It, along with the actual walking on plush carpets, was nice while it lasted.

The problem here is I wear sandals (Teva or other outdoor-type) almost exclusively.  I can probably count on two hands the number of days I have worn sneakers since arriving in the Highlands in 2009.  I would think, with the high humidity levels here, that feet wouldn’t crack like mine do, so maybe there is something else at play here that I haven’t recognised, but somehow, wearing sandals like this continually and detrimentally exposes my feet to the elements.

That said, many around me prefer to go without shoes at all.  Not many of the expatriate adults, mind you, with our woosy-where-is-my-plush-carpet feet.  But many of the PNGns and kids from all passport countries go barefoot whenever possible.

The rule at school is that kids have to have shoes, and must wear them as they travel around the campus. They can take them off on the soccer and baseball fields during recess, but they must wear them to get there and leave them at the edge of the field.  Because of the intense rainy (read: “muddy”) seasons here, students are allowed to take off and leave their shoes outside of the classrooms, and many of them do … every class, every day, rainy or no.

I am always struck, though, by the things people will do in bare feet.  My own children, determined to not have woosy-where-is-my-plush-carpet feet, regularly walk around our centre barefoot … even to church if they can get away with it.  Of course, if possible they would prefer to walk in grass rather than on the rocky dirt roads, but they tough it out even there if necessary.

They're determined to have "PNG feet."

At sports day this weekend, I was amused to see so many bare feet on the field.  You may not have noticed it in the pictures I previously posted, so I will give you a sampling here for your own amusement.   The pictures below were taken of every set of feet running the senior girls’ and senior guys’ 1500m races.  Yes, granted they are running on grass rather than asphalt, but check out the percentage for yourself:

That's 4 out of 17 runners wearing shoes, for a grand average of 76.5% going barefoot.
About right.  :)

In some ways, I think this culture is much more similar to the culture of Bible times than is the first world from which I hail, and the topic of shoes is one place I see that similarity.

Interestingly, when I look up instances of “sandals” in the NIV using my go-to online concordance, I get 28 results, compared with 247 hits for the word “feet.”

There are no results for hiking boots, flip flops, sneakers, or stilettos.  In fact, there are no results for "shoes" at all.

This makes me look differently at the feet around me.  Especially the Melanesian feet attached to those who this Wednesday will be finishing up their translator training course here in the highlands and preparing to return to their villages, their extended families, their gardens … and their work of bringing the Scriptures to their own people in their heart languages.

“How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
‘Your God reigns!’”
  Isaiah 52:7

1 comment :

  1. How often do they get cut feet ? I'm always on at my hubby to keep his jandals ON .


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