At some point early this morning I took my shoes off at my desk and never put them back on. I didn’t do it for an pious and super-spiritual reason, other than the fact that it was a lot more comfortable.
I attended a few meetings, without my shoes. Walked through our parish hall, without shoes. I even walked into my boss’s office, without shoes. Even as I sit down at the end of this day, I am still sitting behind my desk, without shoes.
A few minutes ago a phrased popped in my head from Sunday School in days-gone-by – Take off your shoes…
Whether this was some divine mind-meld, or whether I’m hearing voices (which at this point of a day front-loaded with way too many meetings is a definite possibility), I’m not sure. But the thought “take off your shoes” took me to Exodus 3 which details Moses’ interaction with God at Mt. Horeb. At the onset of the encounter, Moses wanders near a bush that was on fire, but it wasn’t “consumed.” God beckons Moses closer, but only after instructing him to “remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
After sitting with that thought for a little bit, I was struck by how easy it is, even working in a church to forget that the work to which I am called is holy. I am not simply a motivational speaker, a community organizer, a low-level community engagement executive for a multinational non-profit – I am a priest, called-out and set-apart for God’s purposes in a particular, sacramental way. The work I am called to do is necessarily holy work. Whether it’s writing sermons, calling parishioners whom I haven’t seen for a while, organizing Christian formation opportunities, hanging out with youth at Kauffman Stadium (GO ROYALS!) or engaging in conversation with random people who enter the building – this is holy work.
In a sense, I am one of the lucky ones. I get to be a member of the “holy priesthood” in it’s most literal sense. My work is quite obviously “holy.”
What would it look like for the world if we all viewed our work as “holy?” That whether we worked on Wall Street or Main Street; the Vatican or Capitol Hill; whether we were “skilled,” underemployed, or even unemployed; school teacher, stay-at-home-parent, student, volunteer at the local food bank, or whatever it is – what if we could take time to stop long enough to see our work, our very existence as holy, as working towards the in-breaking of the Reign of God, as glimpses of divinity in the midst of a world that can too easily slip into casual dismissal of the glory that is all around us.
It’s easy to go there. At least for me, I can become so task oriented that I often miss the beauty that is all around me. In one of my favorite poems that speaks to the holiness that is all around, Elizabeth Barrett Browning writes:
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes –
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
In the midst of what can be really busy days, take a minute to stop, breathe in deeply, exhale slowly, and refocus yourself on the true aim of your life. If you listen closely, you may hear God telling you to “take off your shoes.”
Keep the Faith, and make it COLORFUL!