Pilgrim Sandals: What Does It Mean?

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You may have noticed a change weeks ago when you typed in the old address for this blog (southerngirlhippie). You were redirected (hopefully!) to the new address: pilgrimsandals.wordpress.com. I want to take a minute to explain this change to you.

The new title comes from a phrase in my favorite poem. I discovered this poem in college. Denise Levertov’s poetry takes my breath away because of the beauty and truth. This poem has stayed with me since as I first read it.

A Traveler

If it’s chariots or sandals,

I’ll take sandals.

I like the high prow of the chariot,

the daredevil speed, the wind

a quick tune you can’t

quite catch

but I want to go

a long way

and I want to follow

paths where wheels deadlock.

And I don’t want always

to be among gear and horses,

blood, foam, dust. I’d like

to wean myself from their strange allure.

I’ll chance

the pilgrim sandals.

 

from Levertov, Denise. A Door in the Hive. New York: New Directions, 1989. Print.

When we moved to our first apartment, I created a collage on our wall centered around the word, walk (my patient husband had to hang each letter by multiple screws because of how they were created; we ended up with a wall that looked like we had been practicing darts when we moved).

I love to walk. I love hashing out life with a friend during a walk. I love ambling along while my thoughts do the same. I could walk and walk and walk.

In church on Sunday, the sermon was on Galatians 5 where we are commanded to “walk in the spirit.” The pastor pointed out that the word for “walk” (in Greek: peripateo) figuratively means to live. My concordance says it can also mean follow.  I love both meanings.

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Sometimes Scripture portrays faith as a race (Hebrews 12:1-3). I enjoy running, but it is nothing compared to the pleasure I get from walking. A race is intense and hard and rewarding–one good metaphor for the Christian life. But a walk is slow and steady–like a life. Plodding, trudging, skipping occasionally, sometimes sunny paths and sometimes difficult ones.

There are several striking comparisons between walking and faith.

Walking forces you to open your eyes. Once during a teaching internship in New York, a professor recommended that we walk up Broadway from Battery Park to 103rd Street where we were staying. It’s an eye-opening experience to walk up Broadway because of the drastic change in each neighborhood. You go from poverty to riches and back again all through the walk.  [The group decided not to finish the walk a little over halfway; so now it’s on my bucket list to complete the whole walk!].

At a walking pace you don’t rush by the broken. you aren’t disqualified by your own brokenness. Sometimes you limp. You are the good Samaritan and others are the good Samaritan to you. You have to look around and see because there is no blur as there might be if you ran.

Walking is the journey and the destination. When I taught The Canterbury Tales, we studied pilgrimage. Travelers would go to the same place (often the shrine of a saint) as a spiritual journey. These pilgrimages weren’t just about the shrine, though. The journey also provided spiritual growth. It also provided community. In a walk there are times of conversation as you head toward a mutual goal. Walking provides time to stop and pause and talk. The journey and the destination that matter immensely.

Walking is messy, just like faith. Those “paths where wheels deadlock” are dirty, and our feet don’t stay clean. We need the foot-washing from the Gospels. Our paths are unexpected; mine certainly have been. And we see that things are complicated; there isn’t always a clear, paved path.

So I’m trying to find joy in these things. I compare my life more to a walk than a race. And I don’t want to rush through or be enamored by the “strange allure” of the chariots.

This sets the tone for the blog in a way that just fits. I can’t help but mix the practical posts with my other posts as I share my life in pilgrim sandals. When I started this blog shortly after I had my son, I wanted to focus on childbirth, motherhood, cloth diapering, and natural parenting.But this blog is about more than just those things. I want and need to write about faith, to write more about motherhood, and sometimes just to write. I hope to also share glimpses into my life–my passion for health (especially surrounding motherhood), my love for all things organizing, and the far-and-between projects I complete.

I love to walk, and I want to share my walk, my life, with you. So please continue to join me.

 

*The poem actually is formatted in a fascinating way, but I cannot get that format to reflect in the final post.

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