Did you thank God for your shoes this morning? No, neither did I.
We are fortunate enough to live in a town and country where such things are easily taken for granted, at least by most of us. That’s why Sister Eileen’s request took me by surprise. As she did last year, Sister is collecting new or gently used winter coats— for men, women, and children—to distribute to those families she meets in her street ministry who are without. This year, when she asked if we could also collect new or gently used shoes—sturdy enough for a winter in New England—it compelled me to think of how many things we assume will be there waiting for our use like, well, shoes!
Having a decent pair of shoes to wear in the winter that keep out the cold and wet weather is something most of us, through the grace of God, don’t have to give a lot of thought to. We have them and they’re ready to go, to help us shovel out the car or take us to the ski slopes. If we don’t have them, we get them.
End of story.
That’s just not so easy if your current residence is a shelter or if your funds are so limited that you must choose between new boots for your kids or food, which is the case for many. Sister’s aim to help with that through a clever “redistribution” of goods. (Nuns are so good at this kind of thing!)
Here’s what you do: you, right this minute, get up (keep reading while you walk, pretend you’re texting.) and go to wherever your winter clothes are spending the summer (attic, closet, Nantucket..) and cast a critical eye on the coats and shoes (men’s, women’s, children’s, poverty is an equal opportunity employer..). Pay special attention to the ones which are begging to run away from home. Throw into a big plastic bag any of them that are worthy of being worn by a Son or Daughter of God (nothing threadbare, torn, or sole-less. Remember Jesus is watching and, also, that crazy pastor just might have a surveillance camera on the back porch of the rectory…). If your winter stash comes up empty, stop at Kohl’s or Payless and start your Christmas caring early. Drop whatever you have to offer on the back porch of the rectory. (Wave and make a funny face at the camera!) Do this by the end of September.
Here’s what Sister will do: using her Superpower and magic sleigh, she will take away all that you have donated, and give it to Jesus himself. It turns out that she knows him pretty well and he lives close by to her house. She will bundle him up, ready for the first snowfall, and put shoes on his feet to keep them warm and healthy. He will thank her, of course, since his mother raised him so well…and someday he will thank you himself in person. How do I know? You can read it for yourself. It’s in Matthew 25, toward the end of the chapter…