Shoes for Sparrows

September 6, 2011

On Tuesday my new pair of gaudy jeweled sandals went missing from my room. All of my other things were locked up, and my roommate’s shoes were still there. Of course, I’m not very sad; I hated those things. I couldn’t walk in them, and they reminded me of how I selfishly bought shoes for myself instead of saving my rupees. At this point, there was no way I was going to buy another pair. I started wondering, how long could I make it without shoes? I had big plans of crossing India barefoot, a daring adventure. (The shoes turned up, but I happily gave them away to another traveler who liked them.)

This morning when I was checking out of the niwas, the attendant noticed by bare feet and I explained that I had lost two pairs already, and that the Divine didn’t want me to wear shoes for a while. He tried to give me his flip-flops, and I said no, but then he pulled out a pair of black slide sandals from under his cot, saying here! I took them, with many thanks, because it would have been foolish and rude not to. When I put them on they fit perfectly, the most comfortable shoes in the world.

I think I am finally learning how to graciously receive an offered gift, even if I feel initially hesitant or uncomfortable. That feeling is just your prideful independence getting in the way (of which I have a healthy dose), and your rejection of aid is depriving the giver of an opportunity to exercise compassion. I leave North India with a heart full of gratitude. I have learned many thigns about how to trust in the Divine which have deeply touched me, that (if I may borrow from Hamlet) all I have to do is but notice the providence of a sparrow to find God’s promise for my own. All I can do now is pay it forward, and hope that someday I will have the chance to care for a fellow sparrow who has wandered astray.

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