Why the bare feet?

People are often curious why I tell stories, particularly sacred stories (is there another kind?!) in my bare feet. I usually say there are three reasons: personal, practical, and theological.

The personal reason is that I just like to go barefoot and don’t really need an excuse or invitation to do so!

The practical reason is that as a performer, my bare feet connect me more solidly and securely with the ground. (And for some "scientific proof" as to the health of this decision, see: http://www.npr.org/

But the most important reason is that third one–the theological reason. It has to do with the whole Moses-and-the-burning-bush story. You know — holy ground. I firmly believe that when we (tellers and listeners) enter into the hearing and sharing of sacred stories, we do indeed immerse ourselves in a holy space. (Which is why I also invite my audiences to remove their shoes as well!)

It’s really a whole life philosophy. Elizabeth Barrett-Browning said it this way:

The earth is crammed with heaven.
Every bush is ablaze
with the glory of God.
Those who see take off
their shoes.
Those who do not
pick berries.

Or, another favorite explanation by Macrina Wiederkehr in this excerpt from Seasons of Your Heart:

To be a child of wonder you must learn to take off your shoes often. Taking off your shoes is a sacred ritual. It is a hallowed moment of remembering the goodness of space and time. It is a way of celebrating the holy ground on which you stand. If you want to be a child of wonder, cherish the truth that time and space are holy. Whether you take off your shoes symbolically or literally matters little. What is important is that you are alive to the holy ground on which you stand and to the holy ground that you are.

My bare feet walk the earth reverently
for everything keeps crying,
Take off your shoes
The ground you stand on is holy
The ground of your being is holy.

When the wind sings through the pines
like a breath of God
awakening you to the sacred present
calling your soul to new insights
Take off your shoes!

When the sun rises above your rooftop
coloring your world with dawn
Be receptive to this awesome beauty
Put on your garment of adoration
Take off your shoes!

When the Red Maple drops its last leaf of summer
wearing its ‘burning bush’ robes no longer
read between its barren branches, and
Take off your shoes!

When sorrow presses close to your heart
begging you to put your trust in God alone
filling you with a quiet knowing
that God’s hand is not too short to heal you
Take off your shoes!

When a new person comes into your life
like a mystery about to unfold
and you find yourself marveling over
the frailty and splendor of every human being
Take off your shoes!

When, during the wee hours of the night
you drive slowly into the new day
and the morning’s fog, like angel wings,
hovers mysteriously above you
Take off your shoes!

Take off your shoes of distraction
Take off your shoes of ignorance and blindness
Take off your shoes of hurry and worry
Take off anything that prevents you
from being a child of wonder.

Take off your shoes;
The ground you stand on is holy.
The ground you are is holy.