If you’ve ever experienced the challenge of finding a shoe that fits comfortably, you already know that different brands of shoes are made for different types of feet. I’ve grown tired from conversations with folks who extol the features of a particular shoe that fits them perfectly and allows them to stand, walk, and even dance for long periods of time, only to find out upon trying them, that it’s not necessarily so for me!
Just as shoes have been developed over the years to accommodate the feet of those who wear them, so too, have religious devotions evolved to meet the needs of the folks looking for ways to experience God in their lives. Many of the devotions we grew up learning and practicing in our youth were intended to serve the needs of the people of a certain era. They were intended to be aids that lead to prayer, which is often defined as “talking to God.” Devotions like Benediction, the rosary, Stations of the Cross, reading the Bible, etc. were intended to leadto prayer, not be the prayer. I, for one, grew up believing that if I practiced all the devotions perfectly and on a regular basis, I would have no doubt that heaven would be wide open to me at the end of my earthly journey. But what a struggle when I discovered that some of those devotions just didn’t fit my personality, didn’t do much to bring me closer to God. I eventually discovered, quite unexpectedly, that I experienced God much more spontaneously in other ways – ways that didn’t make me fall asleep or get distracted.
I learned well into middle age that if a devotional “shoe” doesn’t fit, I shouldn’t wear it! While I still find spiritual solace in some of the traditional devotions that have become part of my religious life, I’ve learned that God speaks to me wherever I am, be it in the inspiring character in a novel, the true story related in a film, or conversation with a friend who encourages me to see things in new ways.
I am fortunate to live in an area where plant and wildlife abound. When I walk the nature trail in the morning, there is nothing that brings me closer to God than watching a deer at play with its young, a rabbit nibbling on the grass, or a turtle slowly making its way across the path. They speak to me of trust, patience, endurance. When I gaze out at a beautiful sunset overlooking the Hudson River, how can my spirit not be lifted up in praise to the One who makes it all happen? It is at times like this that I understand the importance of caring for this paradise that God has placed right here on Earth for us to enjoy and be lifted up.
A comfortable pair of shoes makes the soles of my feet want to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. Likewise, so does my soul when I find a way to God fashioned just right for me!