Holy Socks Give the Gospel Some Legs / Feet: Old First E-pistle 05.11.18

Holy Socks Give the Gospel Some Legs / Feet: Old First E-pistle 05.11.18

It started a few years ago, the weekend of Larry and Rebecca’s wedding in D.C.

Rebecca’s family’s friend, Victoria from England — Rebecca’s dad was British and she grew up mostly in London — when Victoria met me, she informed me that my family name tied me back to the Isle of Man. Her exact words were “As a Caine, you have an ancestral claim to the Isle of Man.” I liked that. I know very little about that side of the family, and she made it sound like my brother and I might be able to claim a castle on the for our retirement. Or ancestral claim… maybe the whole island is ours!

Then the first socks came! It was after Larry and Rebecca got back from a trip to England, Maggie’s first to see her godmother at home and where here maternal grandpa came from. Victoria sent two pair of socks back with them for me. Sort of an odd design, I admit. But the explanation was that the “triskelion,” composed of three armored legs with golden spurs upon a red background, was the symbol of the Isle of Man. (Curiously, a similar image, I learned on sabbatical last summer, is also the ensignia of Sicily.)

The next pair of socks came a few weeks ago. I was making a pastoral call to meet baby Rose, when Rebecca said, “Oh, I almost forgot, we have more socks for you.” This time they were “Holy Socks… for life’s pilgrimage” (www.holysocks.co.uk) It turns out that Victoria must sort of have a “sock thing”!

“Devised partly as a non-threatening and gentle introduction to the Christian faith, the original designs illustrate characters, stories or themes from the Bible, in which there are more than 600 references to feet and walking. Whether you are a person of the Christian faith or of no faith at all, one can enjoy wearing Holy Socks and reading the story, poem or meditation that accompanies them.

Wherever you on on your life’s journey, Holy Socks can make you smile — not the least because one day, these might be the only clean pair of socks in the drawer. Since the first pair was put on someone’s feet, Holy Socks have found their way to India, Brazil, New Zealand, Nepal, Zimbabwe and South Africa. There being many ways to journey, Holy Socks have been worn by rally drivers, karters, cyclists and walkers. They have walked on the slopes of Mount Carmel and on The Great Wall of China.”

My Holy Socks depict the story of “The One Found Sheep.” On one sock there is a single sheep and the crook representing the shepherd. The nine sheep on the other sock represent the ninety-nine the shepherd left to look for the lost sheep.

The crook and the sheep sock can be worn on the left foot so that “The One Found Sheep” is next to the nine and is back home for the “Rejoicing.” Or if you are having one of those more “Searching” sorst of days, wear the socks the other way around so that the sheep isn’t yet back home even while the shepherd is still seeking him…

And the meditation that greeting me on the inside of the sock package:

“Shepherd, is it really you? I got lost.”

“I know you did.”

“I don’t know how it happened. I”m sure I was just eating grass as usual and suddenly I was alone, and I couldn’t see you or the flock. Where are the rest of the sheep? I’m really tired, shepherd. Is the flock far away? I don’t think I can walk very far.”

“Hush now, I’ll carry you on my shoulders, and we’ll soon be home.”

“Did you really leave the flock and come and get me. I’m just one wee sheep. I’m not worth a lot.”

“Don’t say that. You’re worth heaven and earth to me and more.

“Really? Me? I really mean that much to you?”

“Yes, you do. Thank you, shepherd. You’re a really good shepherd.”

“Thank you. Nice of you to say so.”

“I can see things clearer from here on your shoulders.”

“I expect you can.”

“It’s worth being lost to be so close to you now. I had no idea you loved me so much. Shepherd, did you really, really leave the rest of the flock for me? Hoe did you know where I was? I didn’t even know where I was. So how come I got lost in the first place? Oh, yeah, I remember, I wasn’t really paying attention to you or where I was going. I didn’t mean to get lost. I couldn’t see things clearly. Couldn’t see where I was going.”

“I know. I understand. It’s alright now.”

“Shepherd?”

“Yes.”

“What’s going to happen when we get back to the flock? I won’t be able to sit on your shoulders then. You’ll be too busy with the rest of the flock.”

“Well, you don’t have to wander off and get lost and found again to feel close to me. I’m always close to you. Sometimes you feel it, and sometimes you’ll feel as if I’m on the other side of the field. It still helps to take time out so that you can ignore all the other things that are going on around you and just be close to me. Just take a bit of time and draw close and become aware of that closeness and listen, and I’ll be there, and you’ll feel as close was we are now.”

“Really. I’ll try and remember that, but I will try and take time to be alone with you too.’

“I’ll help you. Don’t forget that because I enjoy your company too.”

“Shepherd?”

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry I wandered off. I didn’t meant to go so far from the flock.”

“That’s ok.”

“Shepherd, are you not angry with me?”

“No. Why would I be angry with you?”

“Because I wandered off.”

“I understand you might think that, and I also understand that might keep you from looking for me, but really, I’m not angry with you.”

“Mmm… I was frightened.”

“I know.  I though you would be.”

“Is that why you came and got me?”

“Part of it.”

“What’s the rest of it?”

“Simply because I love you, and I want the best for you, and I want you to be close to me.”

“Do you really love me? Really, really love me?”

“Yes. So much so that when we get home, I’m going to get the neighbors in, and there will be lost of rejoicing.”

“Over me, because you found me?”

“Yes, and because you want to come back to me, and you were sorry you got lost, and because you’re home.”

“Shepherd?”

“Yes.”

“Who are the neighbors?”

“Now that’s a whole different story!”

“Shepherd?”

“Yes.”

“Why are you not angry with me?”

“You don’t know me very well, do you?”

“No, I don’t think I do. I thought I did.”

“Well, you’ll need to get to know me a little better– and I’ll introduce you to our neighbors.”

“At the party?”

“And everywhere along the road.”

“That’ll be fun.”

“You can be sure of that, Sheepie, absolutely sure of that.”

It turns out there are many ways to share the Gospel… to give the Good News some legs (or feet), so to speak…

See you in church,

Michael