Treading on Sacred Ground in a Set of Shoes

As I pack for my first trip to Israel, I try to pack as lightly and as consciously as possible, especially in a day and age when you are charged for every little thing! 

Traveling makes me anxious, and it is nothing like it was back in the '50's and '60's, for those of you who can still recall that time... Travel in our current day and age makes me feel like an animal hauled and caged in a cattle car. Traveling truly deprives those but the very rich of any dignity at all. Still, it is a necessary evil to be endured if one is to go anywhere and see anything...

And while I may fret about what to take and what to leave behind - often leaving behind what I most needed, and taking what was truly not necessary - there is one thing I never lose any sleep over and that is what to wear on my feet.

I have a pair of Merrell's that I have taken everywhere for nearly the entire past decade - or, at least some incarnation of that pair. I have walked Paris, and London - and most of Spain -  but no, I did not do "El Camino" in them! I took these shoes to Istanbul and Ephesus, and it only seems fitting that I should take them on my tour of the Holy Land as well. Can I resist doing so? I think not! And I like to think that they will obtain an Indulgence for me!

Nothing is more important than wearing comfortable shoes, at least for me. I like to have at least two pairs, because when I travel, I tend to walk all day, drinking in as much as I can of my surroundings.

But I found myself waxing rather poetically as I packed, about the various seasons, and lands, and terrains my shoes have seen - the grains of dirt that get lodged into the worn grooves of my soles - and the sacredness of so many of the places I have been privileged to have visited. And, I always find some place, somewhere, to visit on a mini-pilgrimage of sorts, no matter where my travels take me.

There is a movement called "grounding" or "earthing" that promotes going barefoot. In fact, one pair of Merrell's I own are supposed to be as close to walking barefoot as possible. The benefits of going barefoot are many - it helps to regulate blood pressure and reduce stress, and so on. But not all surfaces work well. You must walk on natural surfaces, such as grass and sand, particularly where sand meet water by the sea.

And so, I put aside some of my anxious thoughts and allow some excitement to set up shop inside me. I cannot help but wonder what it will be like to walk the land of three great faiths, and what I will learn and what insights I may be granted.

So, simply stay tuned!


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