Another St. Francis Poem Truly I tell you I have not gone barefoot through this world since I was a child. In summer, the grass like swishy skirts for my toes, the pebbly asphalt raw under my heels. The Way to the Kingdom is not combat boots is not dress shoes is not even orthopedic walking sneakers like the nuns wear no, it is the sole uncovered naked on the earth— Truly I tell you at least 90% of what grownups say to children is “Put on your shoes.” Maybe that’s why there are so few saints among us. Francis’ father certainly said “Get dressed.” “Be respectable.” He didn’t. He wasn’t. Francis begged a priest to interpret for him “Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals,” and was soon wandering all over Italy in his socks and underwear the way my baby nephew explores the front yard in his diaper— I have always wondered about the priest did he run after him like all the other grownups? When he was a young man my father had a pair of what he called “Jesus sandals” simple and leather brown straps. I have a pair of my own. I can’t go for a walk without stopping to dig out tiny stones. There is no rushing. I think of Paul walking all over the Roman Empire with cold toes. In winter, at the free dinner served by my church I used to see so many open-toed boots, so many split soles, held together with duct tape. Did you know there are so many barefoot monastic orders there is even a word for it? Discalced. As in, the discalced Carmelites, Benedictines, Franciscans, and Dominicans, a serious, Latin word for adults who have had their socks blown off permanently. Truly I tell you the holiest moments I have been discalced— Left tip toeing on holy ground trying not to disturb the sleeping baby the dying elder the quiet garden the opened heart. I do not know the Way to the Kingdom. But I do know we can only get there with our soles bare.
Katy Shedlock is a pastor, church planter, and poet in Spokane, WA. She competed in the National Poetry Slam in 2018 and her poems have been featured in The Inlander and by Line Rider Press. Katy is an MFA student in poetry at Eastern Washington University, and you can find her preaching in metaphors on Sundays.