Be Where Your Feet Are

November 25th, 2019
This article is featured in the Intentional Spirituality (Nov/Dec/Jan 2019-20) issue of Circuit Rider

Be where your feet are. Wise counsel from my friend whose life of drug addiction and long-term recovery had taught him that the only way to sobriety, sanity, and spiritual awakening was to get out of his head and focus on his feet. To live otherwise would result in a heap of trouble. Helpful advice for anyone, really, who desires more intentionality regarding the spiritual life. 

Be where your feet are. Sounds like something you’d read in the Bible. Have you ever noticed how much the Bible connects faith to your feet? Explicit or implied, woven throughout the narrative are references to feet which stand, walk, step, stumble, slip, and follow. God gets our feet unstuck, puts them on a path, guides their steps, and provides a spacious place on which to stand. The prophet Isaiah flatters the feet of the one who makes a long journey just to bring the good news of God's redemptive presence.

     How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who       
     brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”⁠1

Jesus invites us to strap on our sandals to follow him on a journey, walk with him, go where he goes, see what he sees, and do what he does. And as we follow in his steps (thank you, Charles Sheldon), somewhere along the way, perhaps without realizing what's happening, we experience the transforming power of loving and being loved.

Remember the foot-washing scene during the Passover Meal in the Upper Room? To show the full extent of his love, Jesus gets up from dinner, takes off his outer clothing, and wraps a towel around his waist. He pours water into a basin and kneels down before each disciple to wash their calloused, dirty feet. To drive home the teachable moment, Jesus tells them, "Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me' Teacher 'and 'Master,' and you're right, that's what I am. So if I, your Teacher and Master, have washed your feet, you must now wash one another's feet. I've given you an example to do as I have done."

He meets them on the ground at their feet and offers a new command: "Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”⁠2 Apparently, the way to the heart is through the feet.

"Here, Now, With You" by Gregg Louis Taylor. Order here:

Getting out of your head and deliberately focusing on your feet heightens awareness of God's loving presence within us and around us. Being where your feet are places you in the context of the present, grounds spirituality in the earthy, imperfect experience of being human, and locates you in the eternal now of God's life and love. It raises questions like: What's happening now? How is God showing up in this situation, through this person, in this conversation? How am I being invited to open up to love's movement, and what's this resistance I'm feeling?

Being where your feet are puts you here today, on this day that God has made, hoping you will be glad in it.

Of course, being here is not without its challenges. It's easy to be somewhere your feet are not. Back there in the past, over there in the future, or somewhere in the crazy mix of both at the same time, are popular places to be. Also, here just gets hard sometimes, and anywhere but here is the only place you want to be. But when you're ready, you have an open invitation to return to the place where God welcomes you with open arms — here. 

I suppose the truth is that here is the only place where God is. In eternal now-ness, God's presence is ever-present. Always here, always now, God graciously and patiently waits for us here. "You will find stability at the moment when you discover that God is everywhere," writes Anthony Bloom, "that you do not need to seek God elsewhere, that God is here, and if you do not find God here it is useless to go and search elsewhere because it is not God that is absent from us, it is we who are absent from God…. This is important because it is only at the moment you recognize this that you can truly find the fullness of the Kingdom of God in all its richness within you."⁠3

God is everywhere. God is not elsewhere. God is here. Be intentional about returning again and again to where you can be where your feet are. And there, as Rilke writes, you'll find that "where you are, however unchosen, is the place of blessing; how you are, however broken, is the place of grace; who you are, in your becoming, is your place in the kingdom." 

Isaiah 52:7; emphasis mine

John 13:1-35

Quoted in Esther de Waal, Seeking God, p. 65.

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