Plum’s shoes had grown holes in the toes, a bit of a slash in the tread. Back to school shoes that survived into second semester were now screaming to retire. I picked up a new shiny pair while out running errands, hoping the amount of green on them would be acceptable. There always has to be green. I left them in Chef’s car while I went on to church to begin the Wednesday evening meal. Then it began to snow, a really good snow that quickly covered the sidewalks and silenced my worries as the world grew quiet. I prepped and cooked in peace until a little boy crashed into my kitchen cocoon carrying his new box of shoes. Hat, mittens, coat and boots went flying as he rushed to open the box, a new pair of shoes! I tried to slow the process, remind him to hang up what he had tossed but new shoes awaited. Scissors were located, tags and that elastic string cut. Tissue paper form holders removed, the shoes made contact with his feet. The magic happened.
Children with new shoes know, just know that they are suddenly faster. They have amazing abilities that either come with the clean tread or are enhanced by the fresh fit. They can jump higher, are able to win all the races, have limitless potential. Favorite color only seems to enhance their magic. The laces were barely tied and he was off. The still vacant hallways provided the needed outlet, he challenged Chef to a race. Laughter and taunts mixed with the aromas of dinner almost ready. New shoes, new perspective.
That night, he dreamt about those shoes, about racing with his friend from church. He and J share dinner each week under the supervision of J’s mom, I can’t watch over Plum while managing the food line. This week they decided they were grown enough to sit all by themselves, sent adults to the adjoining table. I love this friendship, I love that as soon as they see each other, they hug. I am not surprised that Plum spent his sleeping time with both his good friend and his new shoes, following the directive I give him each night as I kiss his forehead, “Have sweet sweet sugar boy dreams.” He dreamt that he had green shoes and J had blue shoes and they raced around the church hallways, each winning some of the races. He laughed again in the retelling of his dream, the joy of the race as real as If it were true. He delighted in his time with J, with his new shoes, they BOTH had new shoes.
It is not lost on me that in Plum’s dream, he substituted in his best buddy for his grandpa. Interchangable. What a testimony to the love they share, the connection that has never been broken, the trust established. Chef is the fun grandparent and also the one who gets those extra snuggles when things are rocky. Chef has taught this child how to have friends, how to be a friend. He is teaching him how to be a man. One day Plum will buy new shoes for a child and accept the challenge of a race. I know he will remember all the times his grandpa paid for his shoes and then lost out to him at the finish line, with a good natured high five and a request for another chance. I know he will look back and rejoice in his grandpa who has been with him from the beginning and lets him sometimes lose because that makes him stronger, gives him character. Plum knows I am the disciplinarian but still an easy mark. I more often than not let him win, haunted by all that he has already lost. One day Plum will buy his own shoes and begin of running fast, I pray towards his goals and all that God has planned for him.
On days that are hard, I want to remember that feeling, that new shoe freedom and confidence that I can run faster, climb higher, go the distance. God gives me that, everyday. Sometimes all I can see are scuffed up broken down holey old sneakers, my life in tatters and my self-esteem shot. New shoes, just out-of-the-box super powers are awaiting in the form of prayer and devotion. Favorite psalms and lines of scripture to speed my pace and reset my perspective, prophets to remind me of what can be, what is. Centering myself in my faith is where the “magic” happens. My wakeful dreams are of a world where I have that feeling to spur me on but also, my friends and my not-yet friends have it as well, we all have “new shoes.” Let’s pretend just for today the magic has happened, the box is waiting for us to open. What would you achieve ? How high could you climb? Let’s open our faith box and find our new shoes. Mine will of course be blue or maybe teal. What color will yours be? Wanna race?