A last pair of shoes

Do we slip comfortably into the Easter story like wearing an old familiar pair of shoes or is it time to re-negotiate a better style and fit?

How do you buy shoes that last?  My grandfather always seemed to wear the same shoes. Not the same pair. Like all things, they eventually needed replacing. Each pair got demoted when the new ones arrived. Sunday shoes, well polished, lived by the front door. From there they began a slow march through the kitchen to the back porch and out into the shed where the oldest lived in a box, occasionally to be selected for digging potatoes. I started a little like this – searching online for another pair of the dusty brown ankle boots I so love wearing, comfortable, easy on the feet.  But, two pairs in, both now letting water in at the bottom, (and squeaking) the second hand sources seem to have dried up.

In need of some inspiration of where to look next I thought of Lloyd, a friend and colleague who died suddenly last December.  I don’t really want a trail of discarded shoes. What I really would like is a pair that would last and be able to be repaired.  When someone dies and the true sense of loss begins to dawn, hopefully too the legacy of the person who died begins to show through more strongly.  Lloyd’s legacy to me, so far, is a pair of shoes. Or, at least, the inspiration of how and where to look.   He was fastidious in his research from beloved cars to pairs of jeans the latter made in Wales to last – the Hiut Jeans no-wash club meant that in Lloyd’s freezer amongst the frozen peas you may have found at least one pair of Jeans. Products designed to last or be repaired (and for free from Hiut). 

So with Lloyd’s inspiration I began the search.  It didn’t take long to find a company in Machynlleth RED, Ruth Emily Davey, who by hand, makes shoes to fit your feet. They are made to last and be repairable.  This was not going to be a fast transaction of click and collect.  Arriving at RED in the town of Machynlleth I felt a rather nostalgic wave of ‘small boy outside a toy shop’ nose pressed to the window soaking up an image of the all too wonderful things that were within, but out of reach. Entering that space, the world slowed, the colours more vivid somehow than the bright morning out of which I had just stepped.  With tea and gentle conversation we reflected and shared stories of loss. Mine of Lloyd who’s insipration had brought me here. Ruth’s of Alan, mentor and friend who had died earlier in the year. Feet were duly measured, leathers and linings chosen from those carefully displayed around me.  I’m too soon for the local leather, grown and tanned not three miles from the centre of the town. However, I break from my dusty brown, the new deep green/grey boots with a flash of colour in the stitching and lining will be ready in five weeks. In honour of this timescale I’ll take the bus to collect them, or perhaps the train. If we’ve learnt anything over the past year it is that hurrying life onwards does us no favours. 

Whilst we muse over the events of Easter and tell the familiar stories I have a sense that these things take time to digest, like the fit of a new pair of shoes. There was a slow unravelling of the events as the disciples and others who later followed them began to realise the legacy which they had been left.  It is all too easy to do Easter in a moment and move on – click and collect.  Here we see in wonder and disbelief those who would begin to tell each other of the legacy of Jesus. Startled and terrified the disciples see Jesus stand before them.  The Christ is beginning to rise and the words of Jesus to them during his short ministry begins to make some sense.

It was not a transaction, but, the beginning of a new relationship, the restoration of all things finally begins to come into focus. Whether we slip comfortably into the story like an old familiar pair of shoes or need to re-negotiate a better fit. Our legacy on that journey is just beginning once again this year.