Just the shoes

Was it you that day?
I forgot to ask your name
on the steps – you fell
backwards, I turned
too late.  You, crumpled
cracked head at my feet.
We wait together on the steps for
help to come, head cradled in my lap
crying out for your shoe. It came off.
I guess, I don’t recall, like your name, when you fell.
‘Don’t worry about your shoes, you need to be still’
I said.  They came, you went in the ambulance
with both your shoes.  Funny how I remember
the shoes, but not your name.

Why those shoes? As I walked away
through the crowd.  Perhaps they
were fashionable, expensive.  I don’t know.
Ordinary trainers to me, a little scuffed
around the edges, like the rest of you. I realise,
scuffed around the edges is what people see,
the names they call you, what does it matter
when, if you reply or not it’s always the same meaning
‘not here’, ‘move on’, ‘don’t be in my way,’ When was it
that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and
gave you clothing? But your shoes the only pair you had,
no name to me just the shoes. Because you needed them.

Christ in stranger

You will need to see the previous entry on Woodfest to set this in context.

I referred to the ‘Mushroom Man’ in the context of Luke 7: 11-17 to speak about thresholds, Jesus at the threshold of the town, the Widow at the threshold of life and death with her son.  Jesus touches the edge of the bier and steps into the world of the mourners.  I reflected on the way in which the Mushroom Man always allows people closer to his work, to touch and feel, smell and experience the wood,  get involved in his world.  He invites people to cross a threshold, an invitation which is sadly not given by many other carvers or turners.  It is the simple opening of the door into his world which is so inviting, and yet, just as the funeral party are shocked at what Jesus does and says, so too are people wary of the Mushroom man to begin with.  He is loud, a little brash, wanting to confront and provoke a little, but always with a twinkle in the eye, people soon start to realise he is also prophetic, this is how to enthuse about wood, this is how Jesus brings about the kingdom.  Stepping over thresholds and crossing boundaries that others simply cannot.  Each Sunday I do almost the same service twice in a row.  I forgot my prop after the first, the turned mushroom from the man at the woodfest.  As we began the second service, I wondered how to present such a sermon without the said item, however, right in the middle of the gathering (hymn, prayers, confession) someone arrived with it.  She strode boldly through the church and came right up to my stall and presented it to me, I was so surprised that all I could do was give her a hug, but as I did, she said quietly, ‘there, I’ve crossed another threshold’.  I imagine it was quite daunting to do that as our services are relatively formal affairs.  The reactions of the congregation were mixed, one commented later that he wondered whether he should have been ready to defend me against an attacker!  As I began my sermon the unease was still evident and of course what they had experienced they did not understand.  I had not staged it, I couldn’t have been that clever, but so many words would not have been able to explain the actions of Jesus so well as the sudden arrival of the lady with the wooden mushroom.  Sublime, she was, at least for me at that moment, Christ in stranger.  I hope perhaps others might come to see that as well!