Saturday, January 31, 2015

If The Shoe Fits…Keep Up the Discernment

One of my favorite smells is a pair of new shoes. Whether it’s a pair of sneakers, rubber flip flops or cute little paten leathers; they each have their own unique smell.  My mom and I have been known to walk in to a shoe store just to take a sniff and then keep on walking.  Within a shoe store there are shoes for just about every occasion imaginable.  In order to find just the right shoe for the occasion I usually have to try on a couple of different styles and sizes.  During our time in novitiate we novices have needed try on several pairs of shoes in order to discover if this life is “just the right fit” for each of us. 

Any runner will tell you that a pair of right fitting sneakers is essential to running a good race.  We too have tried on pairs of sneakers in the form of making new habits (contemplation, personal prayer, communal prayer, exercise, spiritual reading, journaling etc) in order to discover and cultivate our own spiritual journey this year.  The end result is not a medal or trophy but the development of our spirituality and relationship with God and one another.

Hiking shoes also come in handy.  The discernment path is filled with twists, turns, hills, valleys, raging rivers, and moments of unsteadiness.  Like the sturdy sole of a hiking shoe so is prayer to our life.  We cannot go hiking with the poor, the sick, the lonely, the vulnerable nor plunge the depths of our own hearts if we are not grounded in prayer.  Prayer is what awaits us at the trailhead and the end of a good hike.

Dancing shoes are essential for any discerner.  When you feel like you have run a marathon in a few short hours or have hiked up and down your inner mountain sometimes you just have to dance.  Sometimes you dance to a funny movie, a high stakes game of spoons or a round of jokes, but however you “dance” you honor that God given JOY within you.

Flip Flops are helpful for those days when you just need to let God carry you along the seashore.  My flip flops have a “beverage opener” on the bottom, but, that’s a metaphor for another time…

Slippers are essential for remembering to THANK God for the gift of each new morning and the completion of another grace filled day.  Whether it was a day of hiking or a day of dancing EVERY moment is a moment of grace when on a discernment journey.

It seems to me though that if we (or anyone) want to discover our call; we must take off our shoes….what we really need are bare feet.  When we come before God with bare feet we open ourselves to trusting God to carry us through those moments of unsteadiness or to mend our calloused feet through a word spoken to our heart in prayer.  When our feet are bare we are better equipped to walk with the poor, the sick, the lonely, the dying, and the forgotten.

So perhaps our call isn’t just  to find what shoe fits but to risk the vulnerability of being barefoot before God in order that God might fill our “sole”.


  1. Fantastic metaphor, Kelly! Great job!

  2. Kelly, you've done a brilliant job with this reflection! Thank you!
    Margaret Palliser, OP

  3. Kelly, you are one talented lady. Great posting. Marilyn Jean, OP

  4. Great reflection on discernment Kelly!
    Connie Kelly, OP

  5. Great metaphor, Kelly. Well reflected right down to bare feet! Linda Sue Noe, OP

  6. Kelly, I enjoyed your creative reflection on discernment. Liked the metaphors, especially prayer as the sole of a sturdy hiking shoe.
    Therese Leckert, OP

  7. This is a keeper...I'm stealing the idea for retreat ministry! Of course I always give my sources credit.
    Roberta Popara, OP

  8. Thanks, Kelly! You've caused me to reflect on the various types of shoes I've needed to wear, wanted to wear, and to get rid of. Your metaphor is excellent and helpful since discernment is a life long process.
    Blessings, Joy, Love, Liam, OP

  9. Didn't know you were so creative! Great images and I can smell the shoes! The new ones that is!!
    Sr. Lori