Reflections on the journey of our feet
Last week I was visiting a spa and enjoying foot massage from a wonderfully trained massage therapist. It was nirvana. While I lay there, I reflected on how our feet are an integral part of our beings, rich in cultural rituals and personal experiences that have been with us since the beginning of time. Yet, our feet are very often overlooked and seldom written about.
Buddhists have long used clean water mixed with sandalwood to clean the feet. It is even considered to be one of the eight traditional offerings. The belief is that one can cleanse one's own karma by cleansing the feet of an enlightened being. Hinduism believes touching the feet in prostration is a sign of respect for the age, maturity and grace of others. Judaism believes that when the angels visited Abraham and announced the birth of his son Isaac, Abraham greeted them by washing their feet, symbolic of their status as honored guests. Today this ritual persists, by washing the feet of their honored guests.
I have often marveled that palm reading is such a time-honored tradition but I wonder why they do not choose to read our feet instead. Feet are our primary means of connecting to the earth and it is our feet that carry the karma, kismet, and aura of every place we have been. Our feet are part of our journey. Our feet have carried us to where we are today.
For instance, as we precariously waddled barefoot off across our living rooms as babies, with tiny toes tightly gripping the carpet, our parents recorded these first steps. A few years later, our feet proudly show off new school shoes as we waved goodbye to those parents and took our first steps into the outside world of kindergarten and beyond. Many shoes moments would come and go as our feet felt the firmness or freedom of cleats, tap shoes, roller skates or our first heels.
Bare feet accompany a new mother gingerly walking down the hospital corridor to the nursery to catch a glimpse of a newborn sleeping soundly. Those same feet will pace the living room floor when that newborn is no longer new, but behind the wheel of his car on his first date.
Vacations may let these same feet wiggle their toes in the sand and walk long, sandy beaches. These feet may have taken us down alleyways in exotic foreign bazaars or climbed the steps of the Eiffel Tower or the pyramids, payment for the many, many days, months and years these same feet were pushed into sneakers, rain boots or heels for another day at work.
Sometimes our feet take us into strange, unfamiliar places that we wish not to be. Like when they climb the steps of the courthouse to end a marriage you had hoped would last forever.
Once belonging to a handsome Navy seaman, my father’s feet explored the Mediterranean with the boundless energy of a young man, and are now clothed in hospital issue socks sporting textured bottoms that aid traction. Those same feet worked long hours to support a family and now sit mostly idle while my father catches glimpses of email photos from great grandchildren on the cusp of their busy adulthoods.
Many feet are happily running around the world because of his.
And now, tonight, as part of my own evening ritual, I will take the time to rub lavender scented calming foot cream onto my feet. I will reflect on where they have taken me. And while no one has ever read the "tea leaves" of my feet, I will give thanks for the roads I have traveled and the roads not yet explored. The scary, sometimes lost roads as well as the happy ones.
I wonder where we will go next.
Give thanks for yours tonight and give them a little love. You may be surprised where your musings take you.
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