I Want My Feet to Tell Me

People save each other in all sorts of ways.

Several years ago I spent some time in Indianapolis attending a workshop. Workshop leaders invited us to walk through the part of the city where we were meeting.

The pastor of an old church nearby joined our pilgrimage. As he talked about the surrounding neighborhood, he called by name each person who lived in the houses in the blocks around the church.

“I grew up around here, and this neighborhood is my church,” he said.

Then he told us that he had been saved many times by the people in those houses. They fed him meals when he was too tired to go home and cook for himself. They prayed with him when his heart was broken and his body was tired. They loved him when he didn’t know how to love his own life much less anyone else’s.

The pastor pointed to one house in particular.

A gift of coronavirus social distancing is the reminder of how powerful community is. People save us in all sorts of ways. We save each other, even by staying home.

“That house? If the front porch light hadn’t called out to me on that night when I felt as lost as I ever have felt, and if I hadn’t been drawn to that light and sat with Mrs. Thomas on that porch? I was just a teenager then. That front porch became my sanctuary.”

i want my feet to tell me

i want my feet to tell me
where i stand because they
remember where we have walked

i want gravel to crunch beneath
my shoes and silence to fall like
winter snow when my steps are stilled

stolen by a quicksilver flash of
recognition in a not-so-stranger’s eyes
as we pass by each other on the way

i want unexplored fragrances to draw
me to stones as yet unturned on
unfamiliar roads longing to be

touched by the tread of toes
tender enough to delight in the
tickle of eternal seeds of dust

i want a honeyed light in the kitchen
in that house on 38th street to burn
through the fog so i won’t get lost on

my pilgrimage to overhear somebody’s
grandma telling about the time she
or was it i got saved on her front porch

i want my feet to tell me
where i stand because they
remember where we have walked

Author: Jill Crainshaw

I am a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity and an ordained PCUSA minister.

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