I had only lived in Canada for a few weeks when I was invited to someone’s house for dinner on a sunny September day. I stood in the front entrance of their house, staring at the pile of shoes, debating whether or not to take mine off. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Growing up in Ohio, taking your shoes off in someone else’s home assumed a level of familiarity and comfort. It would be rude to kick off your shoes as if you were in your own house. You might as well walk around in your underwear or pick your nose while sorting through your mail. So. I kept my shoes on.
Halfway through the evening, sitting with the 8 other guests in the living room, I tried to hide my feet under my chair; I was the ONLY one who had her shoes on.
This was my baptism into learning the custom of removing your shoes when you enter a house. I have come to embrace it. So much so that it would now feel rude to keep my shoes on—how could I be so bold as to track dirt through someone else’s house? Our house has become a no shoes zone, and our Littles know to take off their shoes as soon as they walk in the door.
I think there’s something beautiful about a culture where we take off our shoes to enter someone’s home. From the moment you step past the entryway, it’s as if the host is saying, “You are part of us. You are no longer a stranger.” Right away we see what is normally hidden—a sock that is inside out or a tiny hole in the toe. It’s hard to remain guarded and impersonal when everyone is shuffling around in socks or bare feet.
Since quitting my job last spring to stay home with the kids, I now spend a lot of time in sock feet. The bottoms of my socks are constantly dirty (likely a sign that I need to clean my hardwood floors a little more often). But I kind of like my dirty socks. They remind me of the story when God showed up in the wilderness and told Moses to take off his sandals because he was standing on holy ground.
God didn’t choose to show up in that location because it was holy. It became holy the moment God inhabited it and designated it for his purposes. I believe that God is present and working in every corner of our lives.
So, what does this say about my kitchen where I make my kids’ lunches? Or my basement where I am (constantly) shoving dirty clothes into the washer? Or my living room where I step over Legos and snuggle on the couch to read stories with the Littles? Could it be that these are holy spaces, too? Could it be that the little, mundane tasks of my day are opportunities to experience and share God’s grace? That here, where there is a stack of dirty dishes I’m trying to ignore and where my Littles are bickering over who had the toy first, God is present? Yes. These little bits are holy bits.
So kick off those shoes. Be okay with dirty socks. Notice the holy in your midst.