Big Feet – Big Shoes

This conceited piece may provide scope for Holy Week Drama, though it is quite dense!

Big feet

Click click click

go the pinpoint heels of white summer sandals,

stylish on the broken pavement,

as she hurries to the sure hot date awaiting her.

Her feet are small, naked as the day she was born,

their ten scarlet dabs of varnish a pretty warning of what will come

after the smiles, the kiss, the vodkas and the turning key.


Meanwhile, Grandpa, with a painful ‘Jesus!’

eases from worn-out boots

the worn-out feet that stand him all day long

in a garden where not much grows:

his potatoes, carrots, even onions,

not a patch on his prize bunions.


Click click click  [the sound of cameras]!

Others get feet

that march to an easier beat,

the smooth sun-glistening model feet

photographed on recliners

by pool or beach, on ocean liners,

while designers, eager,

measure the multi-million feet of a Premier Leaguer

and cover them in boots and trainers, classy treads,

leaving pale imitations

to fall to our nation’s

kids for them to covet and to steal,

to fight and sigh for,

to die for? Like dogs thrown scraps of the master’s meat?


Ooooo no, doctor! Anything but me feet!

The ugly fit-for-nothing flippers

hanging off your ankle ends.

Feet run in our family, see?

Always trouble.


When I was a kid,

I loved to take my shoes off

and feel the freedom,

the slip and slurp of the frothy water

drawn back into the seaside tide.

And tiny pearls of summer sand stuck like glue.

And then I’d climb and clamber

on the high warm rocks;

and the cold ills, the chills of winter

would be baked out of my soul.


But things turn out not quite so neat

for every pair of feet.

The cast-off kids in flip-flops from Bombay to Bogotá:

their homes are dumps; no metaphor.

Each day they search the squalor of a billion emptied bins,

picking out the tins and plastic bottles from the smell,

swooping like beady-eyed birds on anything to sell.

And so they do survive each day

on less than you might throw away.


In other news:

the elderly victim was on the ground.

Wrong place, wrong time.

Tomorrow she would have been fine.

But today, the kicks without purpose

born of blind hate, break her skull, her bones,

battering and flattening her like rubbish for recycling.


But tell me now; think hard before you do:

was there ever in our tale of woes

a pair of feet (a tidy tally of soles, heels, toes)

that suffered more than that one gentle pair

of his, that bore him on the roads of Galilee

to speak his word of healing and of hope?


Yes, his feet were cradled, kissed, anointed,

washed in tears and dried with hair.

He learned from that that night, at supper

when two-by-two he took his followers’ feet and washed them clean.

“For if I do not wash your feet, you cannot learn from me.

If I do not teach you how to live, you cannot die with me.”


And then …

Of course, you know the rest.

The darkness and the garden.

The praying and the fear.

And the tramp of soldiers’ boots,

the shine of spear-point,

sword-blade in moonlight.

And “On your feet!” shouts an NCO from Sicily or Rome,

woken from his happy dreams of pretty girls back home.


The kiss.

The arrest.

The whipping and the thorns.


And then his feet are held again,

toes pointed for the dance of love,

as the long nails, newly-sharpened

are hammered through bones.

And hearts.


Eventually, the end.

Feet stilled, tongue silenced.

His body wrapped and buried in the tomb.


Only then do they see what massive feet he had;

feet broadened by countless miles;

heart softened by countless smiles.


And now his work is passed to those

he has commanded to wash feet.

A task for you; for me; for anyone who will.

For all who had enormous feet

leave enormous shoes to fill.



Wealands Bell 17.iii.16


Baptismal Renewal


The highlight of the Easter Liturgy among early Christians was the baptism of those who had been in long and arduous training in preparation for the great day of their incorporation into the Church. This assured them not only of the support and care of an extended family in a harsh and capricious world; it guaranteed them also the reward of eternal life through the forgiveness of sins and the operation of God’s grace. In witnessing Easter baptisms, the existing faithful were enabled and encouraged to remember their own baptism. In late antiquity, Bishops in their Easter sermons ‘provoked the remembrance of the sound of the splashing of water in the baptismal font, of the smell of the oil used in the anointing, of the feel of the textures of the white garments on their skin, and of the taste of the bread and the wine at the table of the Lord’s Supper’ (Martin Connell). With baptism the climax of the Easter ceremonies, the people of God were able to see and understand that their own humanity had been redeemed and wonderfully restored.


The development of the doctrine of Original Sin, however, and the concomitant fear that the unbaptised would suffer an eternal loss, led to the practice of infant baptism, early in a child’s life, irrespective of the time of year. Just as the humanity of Christ had been degraded in the anti-Arian fervour of the later fourth century, the Church would now lose the liturgical opportunity to celebrate at Easter the humanity of humanity itself, and to contemplate its own value in the divine plan.


Our contemporary liturgy retains the faintest of echoes of what went before: on Good Friday in the solemn prayers we remember ‘those to be baptised’, and it is usually possible to find a candidate or two to be initiated on Easter Day at dawn. The Roman Catholic ‘Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults’, an initiative which grew out of the second Vatican Council, has managed successfully to recapture some of the Church’s early baptismal practice, and there has been some attempt in our own Anglican Communion to learn from this.


For many of us, however, our only opportunity to celebrate our baptism comes at Easter in the Renewal of our Vows, either at dawn or in the later mid-morning Eucharist. It is an opportunity to be seized. Although many of us cannot remember the water, oil, fresh garments and warm bread of our own baptismal experience (even supposing such a wealth of symbol to have been employed) we must imagine and reconstruct that experience through the modest means of words spoken, and drops of water catapulted through the air from a sprig of rosemary. In this ‘aquatic communion’ with our Lord we discover afresh who we are, eternally cherished and commissioned for participation in the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ. Whereas the Church’s ministers (clergy or not) renew their ministerial promises on Maundy Thursday, the whole people of God, all over the world, are invited and urged to use this great day of Easter for celebrating our vocation (than which there is none greater) to be the baptised presence of Christ in and for the world.


Many speak of the heightened emotion, the tears and joy attendant upon a renewal of marriage vows. Just as intensely should this be the case when we renew our intimate and eternal union with Christ our Lord and our Spouse.