It’s All About Shoes… and Regrets
I hope you’ve had a spectacular week. Fulfilling, productive, and beautiful.
We talk a lot about organizing here, specifically… decluttering.
In an accumulation society, some call it a throwaway society, it’s easy and even normal for our stuff to grow, accumulate and clutter up our spaces.
I want to share a personal story. An encounter I had a few days ago.
A story about throwaways.
A Rainy Seattle Weekend
It was a busy Saturday. A driving hard rain, congested, a typical Seattle kind of Saturday.
Amidst of flurry of weekend errands, and appointments, I had to return some items to an Amazon bookstore at University Village. An upscale mall downtown next to the University of Washington.
It was mid-day but thankfully, no Husky football game traffic to deal with.
Nonetheless, it was crowded streets, pouring rain, and packed with hurried drivers.
As I was waiting in a long turn lane to enter the Village, trying to ignore incessant honking and peer through windows streaked with rain, I noticed a couple crossing the intersection.
I was several cars back with a line of traffic alongside.
I’m not sure they were together, but one was following the other.
They had shopping carts filled with miscellaneous items.
Hunched over their belongings, they slowly navigated and sloshed through the puddles, making their way through the crowds, rain, and traffic.
They were, obviously, homeless.
The first one was too far ahead for me to notice much.
The second was easier to see.
I don’t know if the person was male or female, young or old. For they had a blanket, a thin, dirty, soggy blanket draped from head to ankle. Not a normal blanket, but a packing, logo-stamped blanket soaked with rain.
And Then I Noticed
And then I noticed their feet.
I couldn’t seem to look away as this person shuffled through puddles in flip-flops. Plastic, thin, throwaway flip-flops. Shower shoes. A single-use kind of flip-flop.
Huddled, wet, and obviously freezing, they made their way up the hill and beyond my reach.
It took me too long to circle back through the traffic. They were then long gone.
For days now I can’t get that image out of my head. Those bare feet trudging through the dirty, ankle-deep puddles.
We’ve all experienced relative times of plenty and times when things were a bit tight financially.
But few of us have ever or, God willing, never will have to go barefoot.
“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
— Winston Churchill
Returning home, I looked at the shoes in my closet. Not as many as some, but certainly more than the couple of pairs I seem to wear all the time.
I’ve not been able to find that person.
But I know they’re not alone.
I know there are more just like him or her.
I am determined to declutter my shoes.
“Give, but give until it hurts.”
— Mother Teresa
Dr. David Jeremiah, noted author and scholar, recently wrote a chapter in his new book, “A Life Beyond Amazing,” on compassion. A reporter then asked him to explain the difference between sympathy and compassion. He said, “Sympathy is something you feel; compassion is something you show or, better yet, something you do!”
Do you have any throwaways?
As the weather turns wet and blustery and cold over the next few months, are there items in your closet you could pass to someone in need?
A person society often overlooks?
Perhaps you have extra coats and mittens and scarves and blankets.
Perhaps you have shoes you never wear.
If so, look for a local rescue mission or church benevolence program that passes needed items to the homeless.
How much giving is enough?
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
— C.S. Lewis
I’m reminded of a favorite scripture passage that simply says,
“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.”
“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
As we enter this month of Thanksgiving, where our hearts and minds turn to gratefulness and gratitude, may we be blessed beyond measure. May our hearts be full, our days be filled with sunshine and plenty and… yes, giving.
May we give more than we can spare.
Filled with gratitude for our blessings, and making our life count by what we give.
Hug your loved ones’ extra tight and–
Have a beautiful week!
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