by Sr Joan Jurski, OSF
Every so often, I look into my closet and promise to clean out what I have not worn in years. This promise comes up every few months. I imagine there are a good number of you out there doing the same thing. I begin to sort and as usual start to hesitate about discarding this and that piece. These decisions can be difficult. One decision I have had trouble with concerns a pair of shoes. I have a pair that I have had over twenty some years and am just not able to discard them. Over time, I have had to make some repairs to hold them together. I have resewn the Velcro on the straps several times. They are a sorry sight. The shoes, however, do bring back memories, memories of people and places where I have walked.
The dictionary defines memories as “power or process of remembering what has been learned –things learned and kept in mind.” What have I learned and what have I kept in mind.
The shoes reminded me of those times in my life that were times of joy, hope, anger, sadness and every other feeling under the sun and moon. As I held the shoes, I could not help but remember that my life has been a whirlwind of so many events, so many people and so many places. It was in the remembering that I was able to sort out my feelings. In sitting with these shoes, I was able to see how the hand of God has been a part of my life. The shoes kept my attention. God seems to like beige shoes. My personal history is a network of memorable events in which God has intervened. My history is my story. My story is my history.
Memory reminded me there were many times I cried and called upon God to lift me out of a dire situation, times God calmed my frustration. There were times I laughed and felt on top of the world. I needed to remember all those times. Remembering enriched me. It gave credence to my life today. The shoes forced me to take time sit still and remember. It was a kind of shoe contemplation. It was important I sit there, and be still. I realized I am not alone nor have I ever been. God has been my partner these many years since birth. I closed my eyes and visualized all the awesome occasions that have formed the fabric of my life. As the psalmist says, “When did the mountains dance for joy?” God is with me. Psalm 46:12 reminds us, “The Lord of hosts is with us; our stronghold is the God of Jacob.” On the other hand, we could read this as “Be still and know that I am God.”
I guess it is good to clean out closets. They force us to be still, think and remember. I know I will continue to hang on to my beige shoes despite their appearances. Who knows where they will lead me next? I‘ll wear them once again this summer and enjoy wherever I trod. Thank you God for the memories of life. You might want to clean your closet and see where your shoes lead you.
Sr. Joan, I’ve thought about you, one of my favorite nuns, so many times, and have wondered about you! I’m glad you’re well. I wish to say “hello”!
I enjoyed the walk down memory lane with you and your special shoes.
What a great reflection!
Joan, I really appreciated and enjoyed these reflections. I am heading home to clean out a closet.