Take a picture of your feet

Monday Morning Meditation 2020 March 30


Disclaimer:  This Monday Morning Meditation is longer than I intended.  In these strange times, I’m not going to explain it away or try to edit it down or anything else.  I’m just offering what came from my heart as I thought about each of you and put words to my musings.


Well, St. Peter’s, here we are.  We are in the wilderness of Lent and of COVID-19. Our communal lives have been changed drastically.  And yet, as I’ve made contact with some of you individually, it’s also clear that while some of your lives have

changed a lot, some of you are still doing all of your ‘normal’ things (work, retirement, etc.) but with a virus in the background.  That’s tough on a community; the wildernesses that we are experiencing are not the same, and yet, we are one community.  This wilderness is for real, and these are odd times. 


A little tidbit: when I am faced with an odd time, or find myself in an odd place, I take a picture of my feet.  Let me explain.


It all started in 1996, when I was playing my bassoon on a European tour with a high school wind ensemble from Wisconsin.  We played a concert at the base of the ski jump used in the Lillehammer Olympics, and it was an incredible experience.  I couldn’t figure out how to capture the moment on film (literally), so I just took a picture of my feet while climbing up to the top of the jump after the concert.  A tradition began.  From then on, I have taken pictures of my feet in many, many places.  Some of them have been profound.  Some have been mundane.  All have held special meaning to me and have reminded me of one of my favorite passages of scripture:


Exodus 3:4-6

When YHWH saw Moses coming to look more closely, God called out to him from the midst of the bush: “Moses!  Moses!”  Moses answered, “I am here.”  God said, “Come no closer!  Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground!”  “I am the God of your ancestors,” the voice continued, “the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God of Rebecca and Isaac, the God of Leah and Rachel and Jacob!”  Moses hid his face, afraid to look at the Holy One.”

Wherever we stand is holy ground.  It is that simple.  Wherever we stand, wherever our feet trod, wherever we find ourselves travelling, it is holy ground. This Lenten Wilderness, Spring 2020, the season of COVID-19 – all are holy ground.  I have to remind myself of this over and over again when fear threatens to overwhelm me.  During this quarantined time, my feet have not been able to go to their usual places.  I miss those places, and yet, I am learning that there is goodness in being just where I am.  A few examples:


This is my front door mat.

I got it for my birthday this year, and I absolutely love it.  Yesterday, when one of you stopped by my house to drop off a treat, I greeted you in pajamas and a robe, and it was well past noon.  In this odd time, I am keeping it real. That means that some days are pajama days, and I’m not embarrassed to share that.  When I looked down at my feet after that encounter, I saw my two mismatched socks.  (I know that’s a “thing” for many kids and some adults now, but not for me…) And yet my mismatched socks didn’t matter.  I saw that doormat and was grateful to even have a place to call home.  I was grateful to see one of you.  I was grateful to be reminded that in these strange days, every little connection matters.

Connection.  That is what I felt when I found myself at the center of St. Peter’s Labyrinth after visiting the Memory Garden a few days ago.  Back in 2014, on the occasion of my installation as your Senior Pastor, Jill Olinger made me a piece of glass art depicting two feet.  She knew of my affinity for “feet pictures.”  This past Saturday, I took that glass artwork with me and stood in the place where I have many fond memories – too many to list.  I was still in my robe (my clerical robe – not the bathrobe from Sunday afternoon!) and stole from the funeral, and neighbors shouted, waved, and said, “Hi!”  I’ll be honest:  it felt good to be seen and to share that quick exchange of pleasantries.

And then just last night, one of you sent me an email with a photo of a pair of shoes in it.  It was a little odd, until one realizes that I actually request that this person wear these shoes around Easter each year.  In my opinion, these shoes are bold and completely impractical.  They are whimsical, and sassy, and they make me smile.

So this person found them in the closet and sent me a photo saying, “I know it’s a bit early, but I though these might make you smile.”  The photo did exactly that, and this was well after I had already written most of this message.  Divine intervention?  I’m not quite ready to go there, but I do like the idea that we are all connected and that if we see something that reminds of someone else, we should share it with them!  Especially these days, every connection matters – small, silly, downright weird – every connection matters during this season of social-distancing.  So, to whom do you need to send a quick message?

Here’s the thing, St. Peter’s. Many churches are doing many different things to thrive during this bizarre time. I wonder if you’ll humor me and maybe deepen your experience of this scripture a little bit? Will you share a picture of your feet (shoes or not – doesn’t matter!) wherever you are? You can email me, post to social media, whatever! (If you post it, tag it with #stpetersholyfeet.) Most of us are in some of the most familiar places ever (our homes), and yet it all seems strange (like taking pictures of one’s feet does). Seeing the various holy grounds on which we stand would bring joy to my soul in this wilderness. Let’s Be the Church, wherever we are, with whomever we are with (while socially-distanced). Why not have a little fun along the way as well? Seems to me that anchoring ourselves while in this wilderness, by noting where our feet are, might just bring us the grounding that we need to journey into the unknown ahead.


After all, Jesus did a lot of travelling and his feet likely saw some strange places. We are about to enter Holy Week (starting April 5), and our feet won’t be where they usually are for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Sunday. We won’t be worshipping at our church building, but we will ALL be on holy ground. I’m actually ok with this. Church isn’t a building. It’s a people, an experience, and a community. My current plan is to celebrate Easter (with all of the bells and whistles and trumpets and flowers and candles and…) on the first Sunday that we can be together again in person. It won’t matter if it’s June, July, August, September – whenever we can gather again in person, we will celebrate Easter. Theologically, that makes sense to me… and it will feel SO good. But until that time, I wonder where your feet will take you. I wonder where you’ll be during Holy Week. I wonder where you’ll stand on Easter morning.

I will close with a picture that’s actually not of my feet. I spent an entire morning with my child and some chalk, and the art that emerged was life-giving. It happened to be the same morning that I learned of the death of a 5-month-old. Nothing seemed ok. Nothing felt good. Nothing made sense. At one point, I just laid down in the middle of the art and took a selfie, literally soaking up the sun.


Sure, it’s not my feet, but I was on holy ground, and my outlook changed in that moment. I felt God’s gentle presence, and I heard God’s reassurance, “Indeed… you are on holy ground.” May we each take a look at ourselves – our feet – and realize the sacred nature of this time, this holy ground on which we stand, even while surrounded by a seemingly unstoppable virus and missing the communities that feed our spirits.


Start sharing those feet pictures!


From the Wilderness, Appropriately Socially-Distance, and In Faith,