Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dirty Bare Feet - Gross, Symbolic, or Both?

Dirty Feet Image courtesy creative commons license flickr.com by DazMSmith 1/2000

Milo Mills, “Barefoot Fun,” Friend, Jul 1974, 39
Walking barefoot!
Isn’t it fun
To feel with your feet
When you walk or run
The cool green fingers
Of tender grass
That bend to your feet
As you softly pass?

Isn’t it fun
To feel on your toes
A trickle of water
Straight from the hose
And to paddle in puddles
And stamp around
Till your toes go squish
In the muddy ground?
Isn’t it fun
To feel the air
Blow on your feet
That are wet and bare?
Isn’t it great
When a girl or boy
Can have the thrill
Of barefoot joy?

At church a leader was teaching, with their shoes off.
I completely understand there are cultural reasons one wouldn't wear shoes. Perhaps one even has a blister that just cannot be described and one must take off their shoe.

I searched. And searched. And searched some more. And cannot find any statements by the prophets that say specifically "Wear shoes at church. Especially in Primary." There are not even laws (from my meager google attempt) that prohibit walking barefoot in public - except OSHA regulations do state employees must wear shoes at place of employment. I digress.

But what I did notice was a lack of the spirit there. Can it be blamed on the random taking off of shoes? I think it shows an attitude of casualness and lack of care. And perhaps it's not even the shoes. Perhaps the shoes are symbolic of a casualness over teaching.

How do we prepare for lessons?
Do we follow the sharing time outline?
Do we blame children for irreverence when our lessons/singing times were poor and lacked activity or enthusiasm?

D&C 84:45-47 "For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father."

We can have the light! If teaching seems "too hard" then that is the moment we need to get to our knees the most. Our Father loves us and will help us. If there is a child that every week seems harder and harder, that is the moment we fall to our knees again. It'd be so easy to just take off our shoes, kick them up and lay back. But the answer is leaving on our shoes, lacing them tight and digging in our heals ready to work. We go to church to be closer to Christ and our Heavenly Father. Most importantly, Primary needs to be a place where the Spirit is felt. Do whatever you need to do to ensure that. Time is too precious.


Anonymous said...

I can understand and relate to your feelings about being grossed out, however, I feel bad for the poor woman without shoes. What if she reads your blog and feels really bad and embarrassed? I'm the primary chorister in my ward and I really enjoy looking at your blog to see your ideas and incorporate them into my own primary sometimes. I think you do a really good job. I just hope people won't judge me harshly in my own ward and post comments about me on their blogs.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Anonymous - I hope no one blasts you on their blogs too! I don't know why you would worry about people judging you... that's up to Heavenly Father and the rest can all mind their own business.

Let me remind you this is a blog to help people. Some people really don't understand that one of the best ways to be a good teacher is to be a good example. I can't tell you the amount of things I've seen in primary in general that go on that don't make sense and detract from the spirit. And I feel strongly that Primary is the "start", it should be the place where the best of the best is going on!

I was subbing for sunbeams once and a little boy was picking his nose and eating his boogers. It was gross and I told him so. Sometimes things are just gross and shouldn't be done and I wish I had the verbage to put it "better".

Melissa said...

What a funny picture.

You know, I'm reminded of a story about some man from another country coming to an LDS church and being so shocked and upset by people putting their scriptures on the floor/ under their chairs. He felt it was so disrespectful, but of course, none of the members thought of this or would ever intentionally be disrespectful.

My guess is the barefoot woman thought the same. Didn't even cross her mind that she might be setting some sort of an example regarding shoes or grossing someone out -- she was focused on her lesson or whatever else.

I understand what you are saying...it is critical we are appropriate in Primary, it is the basis for so much and the teaching opportunities are tremendous. I guess I just wonder what the woman was saying that you might have missed because you were paying attention to her feet...

also, are you grossed out by pianists/organists removing shoes? Almost all of ours do that...

Melissa said...

I'm coming back because I think I was rude. I'm sorry. I should let you know that I read your blog from time to time and always appreciate your love for the gospel and the Primary in particular. I'm sorry if it came across as a random stranger picking on your blog. I truly see your point.

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sister Melissa- You are absolutely right, cultural differences are key sometimes. I didn't really want to go into detail, but perhaps I should. Once the leader took off her shoes, 6 children followed suit. There were children bouncing off the wall and the environment (not because of the shoes) had become less than conducive to learning. Perhaps I did miss something said, but I guarantee so did 90% of the children there because our attention hadn't been kept. That's why it hit me that the shoes were symbolic.

Do you ever wonder why you have certain experiences? I always try to take them to heart and learn. Shoes are small. Would our Savior care? I don't know. I imagine not. It's more about doing the best we can. Again "casualness" versus "steadfastness, exactness and honor". Preparation for the spirit to teach versus just another week, quick! It's Saturday! What should I do?

Please, I always encourage comments! I think you are brilliant and make a good point. You're not being rude at all or picking on the blog! We are all just people trying to fulfill our callings and purposes in life. I learn so much from everyone out there.

Also, one day I hope my children will be able to use these ideas to help mold their teaching skills. And for them I have very high expectations. Another reason why I posted this. I was considering removing the poem, but it's me. And my daughters would understand that. I think we have to have a little sense of humor. (And not referencing people of course, but behaviors!)

Questions that have come up after the experience are:
1. When you try to help, being as positive as you can, and a person doesn't listen... then what?
2. What are your obligations to children (and the leader teaching) when a lesson has gone haywire?
3. Where did foot/ spreading of disease stigmatisms stem from in my past?

I wish I knew the answers. But I have no clue. I want church to be a time where we can come closer to Christ, it seems like this is feasable. Patience I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Ex. 3: 5
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

I've always loved the different ideas that you've shared on your blog. Maybe that teacher had one she could share which required the removal of her shoes.

Karrie said...

One, thanks for the ideas on your blog.

Two, We are to refrain from judging others, but we are encouraged to judge their actions. That's why we "judge" the actions of our party friends and decide not to go drinking with them... same concept. You made the judgement that the lack of shoes in primary was a distraction and contributed to a lack of the Spirit. You did not judge the person as a "bad" person.
Three, we have recently been encouraged by M Russell Ballard (I'm 99% sure it was him...) not to dress like we are going to the beach for church.

Four, keep it up... I like to check your sharing time ideas as a supplement to the Friend and Outline.

Di said...

Love the ideas, and I understand your point, thanks for reminding us that OUR example as leaders really helps set the tone of the meeting, and our audience is SO important!!!

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sisters! Thanks for all your thoughts! Such brilliant women with excellent points!

Raich said...

LOL!! I am the queen of no shoes. It is definetly symbolic of the hard working attitude and trudging through the trenches on Sunday, always in a hurry. Something I am continually working on...slow down and do my calling dont let my calling run me. Lol...really think I need some more comfortable shoes especially when chasing running away runaways down the hall :)

Anonymous said...

I can't recall reading anything about shoes in Primary, but I did recall this from Dallin H. Oakes in 2008:

"How we dress is an important indicator of our attitude and preparation for any activity in which we will engage. If we are going swimming or hiking or playing on the beach, our clothing, including our footwear, will indicate this. The same should be true of how we dress when we are to participate in the ordinance of the sacrament. It is like going to the temple. Our manner of dress indicates the degree to which we understand and honor the ordinance in which we will participate."