Another St. Francis Poem

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?
As in, the discalced
Carmelites, Benedictines, Franciscans, and Dominicans,
a serious, Latin word
for adults who have had
their socks blown off

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

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.


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