One challenge I have faced in moving to Spain is the choice of footwear. I’m not alone in the dilemma of footwear choice – the expat community seems to have discovered a variety of methods,the Scandinavian/Germanic system, pristine white trainers with Persil-white socks pulled tightly near to the knee band, the English variant, usually involving slightly more discoloured Primark trainers with brown socks, the International Yoooof version with shoelaces untied, and the slouched sport socks, Crocs and socks, Sockless Crocs with Health and Safety issues (see earlier post), the slappy flip flops (why aren’t they called Slap-slaps?), against the law while driving in Spain, and finally, Jesus sandals.

The Footwear Police seem less likely to approve anything that involves socks, so I’ve tried to embrace Jesus’ tried and tested methods. But it’s not been too successful, in the garden, nasty spiky things seem to invade the softer areas of the soles of the feet, around town the lack of ankle support makes me walk like Forrest Gump, and my wardrobe shelf tells me the next day that 30 degree plus sockless apparel creates an environment that, without Odor-Eaters (which look silly in sandals), that is helpful in pest control, but passes on a less than marketable perfume to the ironed shirt.

My father left the UK for 6 years during the second world war, his Army Boots treading the paths through North Africa, Greece, most of the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and Burma. He wouldn’t have claimed to be a religious man, but he did tell me of his visit to Nazareth, where he placed one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, as he walked backwards and forwards across the main street several times to guarantee that he’d ‘walked where He Walked’.

You may well have seen the ‘Footprints’ poem, where the author noted “only been one set of footprints in the sand” when they needed divine intervention the most, with the response , “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

OK, well that maybe works for me, Jesus – YOU can wear the sandals, so I don’t need to experience the discomfort. Because at this moment, those ‘Steps of Faith’ seem pretty scary, as our El Palmeral journey take us into the test of unknown territory, not really knowing what lies underfoot or in the future.

I know I’m not alone here, none of us know the future, and our ‘humanness’ is maybe programmed into sticking to the ‘Safe Paths’. Lots of self-help books try to give us signposts and techniques to ‘do it on our own’, but the Mystery of Life envelops us, because nothing is ever totally as it initially looks.

So, Faith – do we need faith to be ‘carried’? Do we need to be less bothered about our ‘footwear’ that takes us down the path and more aware about Who is there with us? Is Faith a ‘leap’ or a ‘walk’?

My guess is that will be different for all of us, so be Thankful for strength through the toughest of times. Personally speaking, life can be really hard to deal with, but in ‘holding on’ we seem to find the resources we didn’t really know we had, maybe that’s because the ‘Sandals’ are that little deeper in the sand because they’re taking the weight.

The name, person and work of ‘Jesus’ has been tarnished by both Christians and Atheists alike, but maybe I should appreciate ‘Jesus Sandals’ more than I do?

They may be what I need to get through.