Reluctant Mysticism

Sharing shifting faith in community, in private, & on nights when nothing but brownies & ice cream will do

There is a time when civility masks our judgments and preconceived notions about others. There is a time when politeness serves our smug condescension, believing that we really are better than others. There is a time when cordial manners become the slimmest of veneers against our harsh, unmitigated condemnations towards our neighbours.

There is a time when people see through our kindnesses and these times call for protest.

Protest — doing away with civility in the face of power while refusing to hurt others (my working definition) — is a holy and mystical act that uproots hatred from the bottom up. It demands bravery, a commitment to many truths, and the ability to grow with the shifts protest might trigger. We’ll dig deeper into the spirituality of protest in another post.

Rachel Notley offered her provincial address this week. While the economy is indeed dire, it was not the bleak outlook that troubled me. Rather my shame ate away at me after witnessing the reactions of many of my fellow Albertans. Death threats, name-calling, misogyny, sexism, and flat-out deplorable behaviour streamed abundantly. While I’m not shocked, I’m saddened. Cruelty is a sad power.

The third presidential debate happened tonight. I’ve not watched any of them, knowing that they are merely divisive and useless spectacles working towards tearing apart an entire nation. However I will say that the polarized extremes within American politics (must I actually speak Trump’s name here?) has worked to expose the racism and sexism and violence already present in American society. Trump didn’t create his following. Trump’s followers created the world where Trump flourished before he was ever in the presidential running.

I would like to think that the use protest, uncivil as some might claim it is, can bring us to a place of conversation — expansive, generous, spacious conversation — rather than debate. No more two figures standing opposed to one another on a platform; no more diametrically opposed poles. Rather may we heed our prophets of protest, shouting from the downtrodden as they are, and learn to desire what the other person has to say.

Perhaps we can learn, too, how our neighbours have learned to listen, effect change, & grow. Perhaps we could learn a good deal.

I have no wise words beyond what others have already spoken, screeched, whispered, memed, tweeted, or messaged. So I leave you with Amy Ray’s brilliant song of protest. Combine protest with music and suddenly speaking truth to power becomes a raging torrent that passes all of our conscious senses.

Let it ring.

Let It Ring — Amy Ray

When you march stand up straight.
When you fill the world with hate
Step in time with your kind and
Let it ring

When you speak against me
Would you bring your family
Say it loud pass it down and
Let it ring

Let it ring to Jesus ’cause he sure’d be proud of you
You made fear an institution and it got the best of you
Let it ring in the name of the one that set you free
Let it ring

As I wander through this valley
In the shadow of my doubting
I will not be discounted
So let it ring

You can cite the need for wars
Call us infidels or whores
Either way we’ll be your neighbor
So let it ring

Let it ring
In the name of the man that set you free
Let it ring

And the strife will make me stronger
As my maker leads me onward
I’ll be marching in that number
So let it ring

I’m gonna let it ring to Jesus
‘Cause I know he loves me too
And I get down on my knees and I pray the same as you
Let it ring, let it ring
‘Cause one day we’ll all be free
Let it ring


I bought a new-to-me car this past weekend. While I dearly loved my bright blue Ford Focus and went on many excellent adventures with “Li’l Blue”, it was time to find a vehicle more reliable on rugged Albertan winter roads. So I found a steal of a deal in a used Toyota Rav 4.

Of course the first thing I HAD to do was to drive it over to show my three small nephews (ages 7, 5, and 2 respectively). Since my dad and I still had a two hour drive home, we couldn’t stay long. I was there long enough for the boys to clamber in, sit on the seats, get excited, and then it was time to cruise. I hurried back into my brother and sister-in-law’s house to snag hugs before I left. The middle nephew, Dodger, was at the door.

“Ok, Dodger! Auntie’s got to go now. Gimme a hug before I leave, ok?”

“Nooooo!” came the wailing whine, and an immediate attempt to dash away.

“No, Dodger,” said my sister-in-law “that is unacceptable. You are allowed to choose whether or not to hug someone, but running away is not an answer. Can you answer Auntie Erin, please? If you don’t want a hug, please say ‘no thank you’.”

Knowing he was struggling a little bit, I crouched down and replied:

“You know, Dodger, if you don’t want to hug me, my feelings won’t be hurt.”

There was a pause and then came a mumbled: “No thank you.”

That took a lot of courage on his part. For a small person to look into the face of a big person and take a stand, that required a rustling up of guts.

I’ll be the first to confess that when I told Dodger that my feelings wouldn’t be hurt if he didn’t want a hug, my poor Auntie heart broke in two inside.


My beloved, darling nephews don’t want to hug me???

I can’t handle this!

I hollered a “Goodbye!” to Cubbie (the eldest), and all I got back from the couch was a shout in return: “Bye!”

And he’s the one who would normally jump on top of me in excitement.

Heavens, have we reached the “I don’t want to hug you” stage already? It’s too soon!

I’m sure many of you can relate to quagmire of feelings when children begin to pull away like this just a bit, and then a bit more, and a little bit more still. Sigh…

When Cubbie was born 7.5 years ago, I made a commitment that I would not be “that auntie” who would smother this child (or any of his subsequent siblings). I would not force kisses on them when they clearly were not ready for them, nor would I squash them in hugs when they were not in the mood. I would not transgress their boundaries simply because I wanted to physically express my undying love for them.

It’s a whole different matter when they say they don’t want hugs or kisses or physical affection, but their giggles clearly indicate that they do and it’s all a happy game. That’s different! However, Saturday was an absolutely “NO, Auntie Erin.”

Dodger was taking agency over his own body and boundaries. He was listening to his needs and being courageous enough to tell me about them.

That’s deeply sacred.

The world we live in is fractured over how to have conversations about consent — physical, sexual, emotional and spiritual — or if we need to have them at all. The disastrous comments from US presidential nominee Donald Trump has shone the spotlight on white male privilege, and how men have been able to get away with abusive talk while brushing it off as how boys simply are. The scary thing is: people like Trump actually believe that they aren’t doing anything harmful. Why is the world up in arms? Can’t anyone take a joke these days?

Clearly when we begin to try and fathom the sheer numbers of sexual assault victims, these jokes are vital parts of the poisonous plant that is misogyny. Sadly, it’s only one noxious weed in the overgrown garden of power and control where dwells racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, extremism, Islamophobia, and many other dangerous but pervasive growths. Some of this toxic vegetation have roots that grow down centuries.

What does all of this have to do with a five-year-old telling his Auntie that he doesn’t want a hug?

He’s learning to listen to what he’s safe with and what he’s not; what he’s comfortable with, and what he’s not. But more than that, he’s learning to use his own voice to speak his truth to power (me obviously being in the superior position of being able to simply take a hug from him). He’s learning to trust his conscience, his faith, and his intuition.

When I respond in respect and humility to this child in ways that build trust between us rather than a power structure, I am responding to the Christ evident in him.

How can this not be deeply spiritual?

From a Christological perspective, we rarely see Jesus imposing himself on others (tossing the tables in the temple might break that meek streak) and yet we also see him advocating for his own self (walking through the crowd that was ready to toss him over the cliff would be a good example).

We all read intonation and inflection in Jesus’ voice when we read his words in the Gospels, each and every one of us.

However there was not one action inflicted against Jesus that he did not allow…even the cross. He chose to go with the guards while in the Garden, he chose to be arrested, and he chose very carefully the few words he exchanged with Pilate.

Considering the events after the resurrection, Jesus chose to return to his friends. Sure he may have prophesied that he was going to be raised in three days, but what did that really mean in the moment for the disciples? Not much. It would have been more sensical for Jesus to make few candids to prove a point and then scoot off. Yet he chose to remain to spend a few precious moments in the garden with Mary; he chose to let Thomas doubt for as long as he needed, and then to use physical touch to restore a traumatized relationship; and he chose to wait all night on the shore of the sea in order to make breakfast for his friends.

Consent and choice.

My nephews are learning Christ-like behaviour by beginning to discern what is good for them and in them. Dodger might not think that refusing one hug would have had such a huge impact, but in time he will learn. The world will throw at him many opportunities for him to test his voice. The real crux of the matter will not be IF he uses his voice or not, but HOW. For indeed there will be times when he will need to step aside, be silent, and support the voice of another.

All in good time, Dodger. All in good time.

There will be plenty of other ways my boys will express their for me.

However I do reserve all rights on hugs when I shout: “I don’t want your hugs anyway because they smell like stinky socks and mouldy cheese!”, and suddenly find myself dog-piled on by three chaps who think it’s hilarious to make Auntie stink like socks and cheese.

Did I mention I’m fluent in kid language?




Or to be more specific: start thinking about ADVENT.

Stores have had Halloween crap out since the summer, and today we spotted Christmas cake and decorations whilst grocery shopping. It becomes harder and harder to tolerate all the useless, oppressive consumerism that both cheapens our special holidays and destroys lives around the world (making all of our stupid trinkets, candies, and decorations). This isn’t cynicism talking.

This is the voice of someone who finds deep, profound meaning in most of our holiday observances, and wants our western world to shift towards creating meaning within them rather than in dollar stores.

To that end, I want to encourage all of you to begin thinking about how you’ll be practicing your faith through the holidays. Whether it’s Advent/Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Halloween or another cherished holiday, start planning now about how your observances are going to enrich your lives, your families’ lives, and how these observances will teach your kids and perhaps make the world a better place.

Advent calendars were designed as fun ways to help children actually observe Advent so they were spiritually ready to observe the mass of Christ on December 25th. Advent is an ancient season for Christmas, dating back to roughly the 4th century CE, and normally begins with the Feast of St.Andrew. However, the first printed advent calendars began on December 01 carrying on through to December 24. Eventually little toys or chocolates were added for festive fun.

Now, it seems, they only add to the “gobble, gobble, gobble” of treating ourselves at the holidays. Many Christians don’t even practice Advent at all anymore, even though advent calendars are quite popular. But that’s another conversation for another day.

Whether you celebrate Advent officially or not, and you’re planning to have an advent calendar (or something similar to it), may I strongly encourage you to try some ideas?

Instead of fighting over who gets to take something out of the calendar, what if everyone helped to put something INTO the calendar? As a food bank coordinator, our biggest season for donations throughout the entire year is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many of these donations float us throughout the next 12 months, especially during the Christmas slump — the season after Christmas when credit card debt is high and groceries are low and donations drop significantly.

  1. Call your local food bank and ask specifically for what they need. Perhaps they have ongoing clients who require gluten-free items; perhaps some refugees have been resettled in the area, and could use some ingredients they are more familiar with but are having trouble finding; perhaps the canned veggie shelf is low. This is a key first step because I know first hand just how many well-intentioned donations come in of which many are not usable or required. Space is limited everywhere, so begin your practice by asking the food bank, or any agency, what its specific needs are. It’s a HUGE help.
  2. Create a box partitioned into 24 compartments; or use a regular advent calendar to open each day with a big box below it; or make a Thanksgiving tree to tape on to the wall and write on each leaf what’s going into the box; or decorate buckets, pillow cases, or Halloween bags with the items you intend to ask friends and neighbors for (reverse Halloween).
  3. Each day place a dry or canned good into the box.
  4. When done, take your box over to the food bank and pass it off.

Maybe the the local food bank is good for donations, but other agencies could seriously use your help. Here are some other ways to observe your holiday in ways that can deepen our traditions and help take down barriers between us and people we might not understand so well.

  1. Perhaps your local homeless shelter could really use NEW, DRY socks. So each day someone puts in a pair of warm socks. Believe me, street life includes a lot of foot fungus and frost bitten toes. New dry socks can be a godsend (but please refer to step 1 first before starting your collection).
  2. Maybe the local blood bank could really use your support. Whether celebrating the full traditional/Celtic advent or the first 24 days of December, gather 24-30 friends and family members who will commit to donating blood. Each person gets to pick a day by putting their names on the calendar.
  3. Find a micro-business or social venture in a developing nation that is working to employ local people & assist local community development. a) drop money each into the box and purchase items from your chosen organization with the amount you’ve set aside, or b) if the business is tied to a nonprofit organization, chose a starting amount for Day 01 (for example, $0.25). Then double that amount each day (Day 02, $0.50, Day 03, $1, and so on). This option might become out of reach by the end of the month for some individual families, so this could become a group or church thing. It’s also a good exercise to do if a family is re-evaluating just how much money is actually spent on Christmas presents. If the amount you raise using this advent option is within your Christmas present budget, perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on priorities, needs, wants, and relationships.
  4. Put your research hats on. Often we refuse to help or accept others in need because we don’t know them or understand them. Have everyone in the family take turns putting the name of one religious institution, nonprofit organization, or support agency into the box. Check out churches different from your own (Catholic, mainline, orthodox, charismatic, etc), mosques, synagogues, Sikh gudwaras, Buddhist temples, or indigenous community centres; check out LGBTQ+ support agencies, homeless shelters, food banks, animal rescue shelters, or after school programs. Then, as a family, commit to visiting each agency throughout the upcoming year. a) CALL FIRST before visiting anyone to check and see if its appropriate to set up a tour and a Q&A; b) MAKE SURE people know your intent in coming is to learn, ask questions, and to listen. You aren’t coming to drop off pamphlets, argue theology, condemn, judge, or gawk at people walking in the door. Be sensitive to each place’s needs, and if they say “No, please don’t come”, respect the answer and move on to the next agency. c) DEBRIEF as a family — what did you learn? What was different than you thought? How could you be better neighbors and friends after learning what you’ve learned?
  5. Many after school programs and youth programs rely on various forms of art interventions/therapy/programming to engage their kids. Instead of food, put different art supplies in the box each day. I can say with 100% certainty that anyone would be THRILLED to have a full box of brand new art supplies coming their way! (pencil crayons, pastels, finger paints, brushes, pencils, different kinds of paper, music, paints, clay, glue…be creative!)
  6. Are there any college students in your churches? Families? Neighborhoods? Most students are thankful and relieved to have a break with their loved ones over the holidays, but often stress over having to return to dorm life. Some students don’t get to go home at call. Turn your advent calendar into a care package! Whether it’s delivered to a student before Christmas (a box that might include an open invitation to Christmas dinner would be great), or delivered just before/after they return to school, toiletries, snacks, music, school supplies, and homemade cookies (check for allergies!) are always welcome.

I hope this post has given you all some practical ways we can all begin to break the consumerism chains in our lives, deepen our practices and observances, and even step out of our little worlds in order to see life through the eyes of people we don’t know. The stores already have a jump on our holidays.

Let’s jump right back.


Click here to sign Council of Canadians pledge to not buy bottled water or Nestle products. [This is not the first Nestlé boycott – as a sociologist friend pointed out – this company is…

Source: Council of Canadians announces Economic Boycott of Nestlé


from Erin… Nestle has long been an enemy of planetary resources, oppressed and isolated people groups, and a proponent of environmental devastation and human trafficking in order to sell its products. Check out Nestle’s list of brands, sign the petition, & help Canada refuse Nestle its attempt to gain more control of our potable water.

A beautiful expression of the Autumnal Equinox…

Tadhg Talks...


It’s Alban, Elfed, the autumn equinox, that great time of balance; the time of equal day lengths and night. Balance is a great word, but how do we apply it to our daily lives? Here’s a thought.

I know some men and women of action, but with little prayer and ritual. They achieve good things and I greatly admire them.They are always busy, but in some way they seem ‘disconnected’ from the Source, exhausted, ‘drained’, ‘energyless’.

I know some other men and women, who are great people of prayer and ritual and I greatly admire them, too. But, little action. To them, the goal of action may seem too remote, or they maybe, they have assumed it’s the ‘calling’ of others do’, and not there’s. They seem ‘disconnected’ from interaction with the local and wider community, almost recluse.

I am only speaking in generalisations, and it’s not for me to…

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Have you ever had moments when you realize you are moving through pure colour?

I have.

About 13 years ago I was hiking in Banff with a couple of friends. We reached a small isolated mountain tarn. It was like a cross between a deep sapphire and a turquoise. We emerged from the forest, but across the waters were steep slopes of scree and a few glacial chips.

It was an understatement to say that the pool was cold!

Still, my friend and I ventured inwards, powered through the chill, and reveled in the remarkable experience of moving through nearly perfectly clear water while swimming in colour. On our hike back down, my friend hung back with her boyfriend while I went on ahead for a spell. I came to the lake watering the valley floor. It was larger and longer than the tarn at the top, but no less jewel-like or stunning.

I shucked off my shoes once more (and few clothes since I was alone, praying my friends wouldn’t catch up too soon) and dove in. The sun was lower in the sky by this time, so I turned my face to the west and felt its warmth on my skin as my body adjusted to the watery chill.

I was suspended between heaven and earth in a nearly perfect bathing of colour.

I dove, did somersaults, swam as deep as my lungs would allow, and then burst through the surface as high as I could manage. It seemed to me that the colours themselves were Gilead balms soothing a battered life which, back then, was struggling just to survive daily life.

It was a prismatic baptism of renewal.

Autumn is just such a season in the same way for me — renewal, restoration.

Every day I follow my walking route. Part of that route has me trekking along a short unmarked trail across the lakefront. I am towered over by poplars, willows, and other colouring deciduous trees; there are spruces and mosses that spurt final a final brilliance of green before winter comes; leaves turn red, yellow, gold, and orange. All around me, from tree top to forest floor, I am surrounded by vibrant colour that sings, smells, and speaks of life.


Many of us know and understand what Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is. Even people who aren’t formally diagnosed know and feel the impacts of the short days and long nights in our northern climates. When we aren’t exposed to enough sunlight our moods struggle, our appetites change, our sleep cycles are disturbed, and we battle with depression and anxiety. Even getting out of bed in the morning is a war because all we see is darkness: we get up in the darkness, and it’s dark even before most of us leave work in the afternoon. Life becomes even harder when we have stretches of cloudy or snowy weather, or when the sunny weather is just too frigid for human beings to be out of doors for more than a minute or two.

As I was wandering through my autumnal sanctuary yesterday, I had a strange thought: what if autumn is one of God’s ways of restoring us before the darkness comes? What if all of this colour, a sign of death and dying and sleep in many respects, is also a sign of life? Colour gives lift to the spirit, muse to the imagination, and energy to dreary moments. When we are literally suspended in these places bursting with colour, how can we not absorb the power of all this crazy, last-ditch energy around us? How can we not be transformed by these colours?

Well first of all, we have to notice them. Perhaps even before that, we have to want to notice them. We have to remember to notice them. In our scurrying around with back-to-school frenzies and preparations for winter, even the most brilliant of falls can be all too easily missed.

Once we’ve noticed how alive and vibrant our world has become in this special way that only autumn can offer, we can start to reach out a bit. We sniff the air and pick up the pungent scent of wood smoke, and the sweet emissions of sap as trees prepare for a wintry sleep; we are drawn to the flaming red leaves contrasted with the bright green moss and the deep blue of the lake, even if we aren’t sure why; we think of cavernous temples and sanctuaries as poplar trees tower over us with their boughs heavy-laden with golden leaves; and we become almost giddy with adventure as we walk down well-worn paths now carpeted with fallen leaves and petals. As these fallen discards of spring swirl around our feet, suddenly we’re hit with an unannounced rush of “Anything is possible! ANYTHING!”

Walking through colours.

This wonder, this delight, this perfectly-logical-yet-topsy-turvy season of God draws us in so that we, like bears who forage for berries before their winter hibernation, can prepare for the dark times ahead. Anyone who’s experienced deep depression knows that we can’t simply call up a beautiful autumn when we’re in the midst of the darkest part of the darkness. That’s an impossible call. We’re blind. We can’t see anything, much less have energy to even try.


…as we schlep through those dark nights of the soul, we have flashes. It’s during those flashes of relief, of comfort, and hope that we can learn to call up these autumnal spaces — these sacred spaces that suspend us in colour — and realize that these aren’t just nice memories. We walk (or swim) through these living scenes of colour because they bring healing for us, both in the moment and for times later on when the wilderness takes over.

So if you find yourself walking by a lake, a path, a lane in your city park, and it happens to be extra colourful at this time of year, STOP.


Drop your bag, park your bike, park your car.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Look for the veins in the leaves; look for the contrasts; look for God in the details. Be overwhelmed. Move slowly, run like hell through all the colour (because you can), raise your arms, sit down, twirl, sit on the side of a bridge and mull it all out.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Take in all you can of autumnal colour. It is healing. It is wonder. It is God’s reservoir, preparing us for the darker seasons to come.

But we don’t need to think of the darker seasons right now. Or right here.

For now, the reality that we are moving in pure colour is more than enough to excite and delight us. These alone bring healing and remind us of how loved we are.


Over the past few years, I’ve developed a personal habit during my spiritual disciplines:

I go barefoot.

On the surface, it doesn’t sound cataclysmic at all. It’s pretty simple, really. And that’s part of the core of the practice: simplicity. When I was at seminary last week, I had quite a few people ask me “Why?” after leading a morning prayer service without shoes.

Afterwards I was asked to put my shoes back on for our school’s Opening Night of Worship. It was a more formal setting with more people attending the service. I was the cross bearer (in the front of the processional), and it my feet would have right there in front with me. Could my bare feet have shocked some people? Perhaps. Was it a reason to cover up? I don’t believe so.

So instead of trying to answer the many individual questions as to why I deliberately go barefoot in communal worship spaces, I’m offering a response here for you to read at your leisure. You may agree, disagree, or fall anywhere in-between. That’s okay. Blogs are conversation starters rather than finishers.

  1. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”

    Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:2-5). I believe all ground is sacred ground; all space is created space; all ground and all space are inhabited by God. Thus all ground and space for all time is holy. God is present with me continually. Like Moses, I am called to display reverence, awe, wonder, and sometimes dread by removing my shoes while participating in worship. Here the worship of God is largely individual (just God and Moses), but I believe there are aspects to God’s character (holiness, awe-fullness, transcendence) that apply to all of us whether together or apart. I remove my shoes to express my smallness and insignificance before such divine power.

  2. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table,[a] took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.

    Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.” (Luke 13:3-5). Here we find Jesus, the supposed Savior and Redeemer of the world, interrupting a formal worship service (the Passover) in order to perform the act normally relegated to slaves. Unlike the scene with Moses where removing shoes is a sign of our very human place before the Almighty God, we see here the removal of shoes and the washing of feet by God as a symbol of God raising us up to who we were meant to be in Christ. As I said, formal ceremony is deliberately interrupted in order for Jesus to intentionally share this new and unheard of thing. He comes close to his friends, he becomes intimate, he expresses love in a degrading and humbling way and invites us to do likewise. Removing my shoes during formal communal worship is my sign of Who’s path I have chosen to walk, the example I have chosen to follow. Jesus’ act was meant to disrupt and disturb just as much as it was to express love and closeness. If people feel uncomfortable at first with my bare feet, they aren’t alone. The disciples were pretty shocked too.

  3. There are numerous mystical traditions and sects from all sorts of religions that hold simplicity as a core virtue. Choosing to try and live a similar lifestyle of simplicity is a way for me to connect with these clouds of witnesses, to ground my entire being in creation, and connect on a physical level with God.
  4. Historically, slaves, prisoners, people in poverty, and other oppressed groups had their footwear removed by force. These groups also were not welcome in churches. They were untouchables, subhuman, and certainly not creatures God could love. Baring my feet declares that Jesus wanted/wants nothing to do with such false teachings or behaviour. Walking barefoot to the altar shows the Christ of the Scars, Christ of the Wounds, Christ of all People wants all people in all times and places to enter into worship together. By choosing to remove footwear, I am identifying the places where I have not been received into worship and breaking down those barriers by coming with Christ to Christ; I am also affirming the countless times and places where others have been refused communal worship, and declaring that rich or poor, gay or straight or trans, of whatever ability, of whatever skin colour: COME. Bare feet, in this instance, is a sign of beckoning welcome that breaks down dividing walls of hostility. This simple act together declares that oppression must flee before Love. We are all desired in worship, we are all called to come, we are all welcome. Yet so many have been refused welcome, sometimes literally for having no shoes.
  5. There are millions of people in this world who do not choose to go barefoot but must do so anyway. I remove my footwear as a sign that I do not need even a fraction of what I own. This would be an empty gesture if I simply donned my shoes afterward and headed straight for the first Doc Martens store. But as an extension of worship, I am learning to purchase only what I need when I need it.

But what if someone who’s faith is weaker is offended?

Good question.

The people who attended our service that evening, by and large, were long-time church-goers and supporters of the school. I highly doubt I would have shaken anyone’s faith. I might have offended some sensibilities or formalities, but this is where I cease to care very much. When the Apostle Paul speaks of being careful of those with weaker faiths, he was speaking to mature Christians in regards to infantile Christians with deep questions about new life.

If someone approached me and said that they could not worship at all because my bare feet were causing them to question their relationship of God, I would welcome a beautiful discussion about how I could support that person’s faith walk.

If someone approached me and said that I was being impolite or improper or shocking during what’s meant to be a sacred worship service, I would probably say: “Good! And here’s why…” I’m a servant, but I don’t believe coddling outdated social conventions is the same as addressing a shaken faith. Not in the least.

I am not deliberately trying to antagonize authorities nor am I trying to jump on a bandwagon to create some kind of pastoral image. I have given 5 very good reasons, I believe, as to why I practice communal worship as I do. I have addressed the primary concern people have about bare feet in a communal setting; and it’s my understanding that it is largely long time church-goers that have the biggest issues. Let me be clear: they’re faith is NOT at stake in this circumstance. It is their sense of propriety and what it socially decent. And as I have already mentioned, our social codes around shoes are largely embedded in privilege and segregation – declaring who was fit to enter church and who was not.

What about hospitals or places of safety?

I do recognize sensitive areas, such as hospital wards, where safety and hygiene are heightened issues. I will wear footwear in places where bare feet might put patients at risk for infection or transmission.

Any other questions out there? I welcome an and all. Hopefully l will be able to answer them to your satisfaction. As I said, this is a conversation starter rather than an ender’s game.

Thanks, all, for hearing me out. Peace.