Focal verse

“Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

Reflection 

Summer mornings at the park are a staple of our family’s routine. Most days, the kids run ahead of me to the playground and, once they arrive, remove their shoes and socks (which I find littered across the ground). The kids’ laughter leads the way as they slide, swing and chase one another. The ground there isn’t soft by any means, but nothing seems to bother them; they’re more interested in the freedom they find in running and playing barefoot.

Seated on the park bench, I watch the kids’ feet bouncing against the rocky ground and I squirm over their pain—but it doesn’t faze them. Their running barefoot actually seems to be both strengthening and softening them to the world. Their feet get accustomed to the roughness beneath them but also feel the depth and beauty of each rock and blade of grass. Their feet are intimate with the earth.

I can’t help but wonder whether their playing barefoot might help them learn about gratitude and connecting with the earth spiritually. I hope my children know the gift of this life, this creation and their place in the world. I want to model gratitude by offering my thanks for my children and the life we share.

I’m learning from my children that gratitude can be a posture we take with our whole bodies. When they take off their shoes, I believe, they’re able to feel that this earth is a myriad of animals, plants and minerals, all coming together to form God’s beautiful and diverse creation. God is with us wherever we go. God’s goodness, too, is never far from us. The ground we walk on is holy.

Remembering that God created each and every part of this world—people, plants, animals—gives us new eyes to see what’s in front of us as brimming with goodness and hope. This month, I’d like to take a lesson from my kids, step outside with bare feet and feel the power of God’s presence supporting me.

Practices

If the weather allows, go outside barefoot. Stand in the grass or on your driveway. Root yourself in the earth and say a word of thanks to God for creation and your place in the world.

After time outside, wash one another’s feet with a hose or wet washcloth. Take time to give thanks for your feet and for all the places they have taken you.

Service opportunity 

Visit parks in your community and pick up trash. Find ways to bring beauty to areas where people gather.

Prayers

We pray for peace in our communities and across the world.

We pray for God’s grace to comfort those who feel alone or scared.

We pray for all those who walk for their livelihood and for their water.

We give thanks for parks, playgrounds and the playfulness of children.

We give thanks for the chance to walk, run and jump.

We give thanks for the sun, flowers and grass, God’s beautiful creation.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.

Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, Mo. Her website is kimberlyknowlezeller.com.

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