Sometimes, a piece of music, keeps on playing inside our heads long after the CD has stopped playing or we have switched off the radio. One such song for me is by an artist I have only recently discovered by the name of Bill Fay. He is a British recording artist who has just released his latest CD forty years after his last one; it is called ‘Life is People.’ Now with a title like that I could not resist purchasing the CD and I have not been disappointed. The particular track that keeps playing inside my head is “Be at peace with yourself” and the chorus goes like this:
At the end of the day
Ain’t nobody else
Gonna walk in your shoes
Quite the way that you do
So be at Peace with yourself
Keep a spring in your heel
Keep climbing that hill
And be at Peace with yourself.
There are various ways we learn to be at peace with ourselves, but this particular song suggests that we need to learn to accept our own unique presence upon on this earth. We each have a particular footprint, which no one else can quite copy. I recall when I was recently in Salisbury, England on one particular morning, there had been a heavy frost and across the Cathedral green there were various tracks of footprints. Feeling very relaxed and being early for Morning Prayer at the Cathedral, I tried to walk in another’s foot prints, alas, they were too small and I could not walk in them. It was a powerful reminder for me that I have a unique place and presence in this world and sometimes, when I try and walk in another’s footprint it requires that I change my gait and try to fit shoes into the print they have left behind.
Walking in another’s shoes is never easy, in fact it is nigh impossible, but, it is essential we attempt such an act, if we are to experience the fruit of awareness and understanding in a world that appears to be short of compassion and goodwill.
It is so easy to judge and criticise another, to pass judgement like a high court judge. However, if we could just pause for a moment and imagine we are walking in their shoes and walking their journey. What would we see? What would we feel? How would we see the world from their perspective?
Another king, who was called Jesus, mentioned something similar nearly 2000 years ago:
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
For with the judgement you make you will be judged,
and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye,
but do not notice the log in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your neighbour,
“Let me take the speck out of your eye”,
while the log is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.
Matthew 7: 1 – 5
The heart of Jesus’ message was compassion and unconditional love, we practice this as we first examine our own lives, our attitudes, our worldview before we attempt even to judge another. When we seek to walk in another’s shoes we are attempting to suspend our judgement and criticism of that person and in so doing we will discover our own blind spots that prevent us from actually seeing, hearing and meeting another person at the level of our shared humanity. I leave you with a few questions?
What is it like walking in your shoes today?
Whose shoes will you attempt to walk in today?
What might you discover about them?
What might you discover about yourself?
no one is going to walk in your shoes,
quite the way that you do.
So be at peace with yourself.
For you have a unique place
and presence in this world.
Peace from within my shoes to you in your shoes