Steve’s mom was overwhelmed, with five children to keep track of and a vast wilderness (literally!) right outside her back door. (The family lived in Grand Canyon National Park, where Steve’s dad was banker to the park employees.)
Steve told a story of the panic that rose when his lively, blonde, curly-topped sister toddled out the back door and disappeared into the forest. Park employees and the Native Indian community joined hands to form a long line and comb the woods for this little girl lost.
Fortunately, this story of a Morris sibling missing in the wilderness has a fairytale ending. The searchers found her happily playing with some pinecones, surprised at the tears and emotion that surrounded her.
Of course, this was a wake-up call for Steve’s mom. It became clear that she needed a better way to corral and track her five young children. The ground outside their home was littered with pinecones, burrs and other deterrents to little feet. So–resourceful woman that she was–she simply took away their shoes and figured that would keep them from roaming.
For tenderfooted Steve, that did the trick. He described the frustration he felt at being trapped in the house, looking out the window at the beckoning forest. Those peaceful, quiet woods were the only antidote he knew to the stress and chaos he felt in the house. He so longed to be outside, encircled by the sound of the wind in those high pine boughs. But, without his shoes, he was trapped.
Clothing was never very important to Steve, but soft socks and comfortable shoes always were. Those still-tender feet needed to be protected and free to roam whenever, wherever.
Yesterday Ellie and I looked through his things one last time, taking out a few more items that we couldn’t let go of: the fleece vest he practically lived in during the cool months, a soft, single button-down shirt, a thin cycling vest for Ellie. This morning I closed up the boxes and put them out on the curb for The Redwood Gospel Mission’s pick-up service.
So now Steve’s shoes will have a second life, worn by someone in need who can’t afford store-bought. I pray that whoever wears them will feel comfortable, supported and protected from at least some of the brambles and burrs of life.
There would just be something so right about that. Steve would be pleased.