May 26, 2012
I put on a new pair of boots today. Letting the old worn-out boots go isn’t easy. Boots worn on a mostly daily base speak something about the wearer’s life. Boots tell a story about the wearer’s physical life, social life, and spiritual life.
My old boots always go through the same process. I cannot quite throw them away in the trash, but I can’t give them away either because they really are falling to pieces. So instead, they find their way to the back of the closet where they will stay until the new boot relationship is formed and some of the old boot stories have faded.
The boots arches tell a scrap of the physical story. Flatter than a pancake, the arches went away in the first months of wearing. Those non-existent arches speak to flat feet that have never understood why anyone would put a lump of leather, plastic, or cloth underneath a foot—a built up arch support is like having a stone in the bottom of the boot—and think that is good thing!
Socially and spiritually, these boots tell stories of walking with friends two winters ago near the farm. A hard freeze had come on the backside of a light snow. Moving through trail-less brush in below freezing weather there was little more sound that crackling grass. While breath fog formed icy eyebrows and glitter on hoods and hats, those old boots moved through snow and kept those old flat feet dry. Worn-out cracked leather tells of countless journeys of moving irrigation line in the hay field. Cracks speak to summers of working with volunteers re-roofing old homes and placing concrete for new homes. Paint speckled leather tells the story of creating the middle-high school band float during after-school hours with youth who are artists in their own right. Then there is the blood. Blood tells a spiritual realization that if one is going to raise animals for food; it is only right, fair, just, and honorable to be with them in death. To be a meat eater and recognize life is given so another might live, it is only just—relationally and spiritually—to stand beside the chicken or goat or steer as they die so I or others who eat meat from the farm might have life. To do so mean a splattering of holy blood is ingrained in the boots leather grain.
As I put on a new pair of boots this morning and set the old ones off to the side, I know there are a hundred stories also shuffled off with them, soon to be forgotten. The upside, I reckon, is new stories begin today as leather begins to bend and mold.
© David B. Bell 2012