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The Shoes.

I found the box in a trash heap off the side of a dirt road.

I had hopped off the running trail as there was no ladies room nearby, and discovered a box of antique cobbler’s shoe forms alongside a tacky plastic Christmas tree in the mid March mud. Incredulous that someone would throw away a box of such beauty, I regathered myself, put my earphones back in and continued on my way. Suddenly, I knew those shoe forms were a gift for me. I booked it home, worried that another would find my treasure, hopped in my Jetta and sped back to my spot. Carefully emptying the box lest I find a snake, I counted out 13 forms. I packed them up, drove them home and began my letters.

Here were the rules. I sent a shoe to the thirteen people who walked this annus horribilus with me. I asked each to receive the shoe as a thank you but to consider giving it back to me one day with our part of the journey represented on the shoe. I now have a growing collection of shoes in my basement apartment . . . shoes that represent friendship and support. Shoes for which I feel no need to justify, explain or share. They are mine . . . my personal collection of art treasures.

I only had one shoe returned to me, unopened. That one was from Jason Mraz, whose Details in the Fabric was my life song for an entire summer. I’m still trying to find a correct address for Mr. Mraz. I’ve had no success, but his boxed shoe sits on my shelf with a letter of explanation inside and each time I walk by I ask for six degrees of separation to work on my behalf.

I’ve learned so much over the last year. I’ve become intimately acquainted with both judgment and grace, all in the name of Christianity.  It’s changed the way I’ve viewed God, myself, and the church.  This gift of a year has forced me to define who I want to be, and it’s crystal clear. Each day I get to chose whether I will operate in love, joy and peace or in anger, fear and bitterness. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will. Some days I don’t even get close, but I truly like who I’ve become.

And by the way, I need more shoe forms. I am grateful. Truly, truly grateful.

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