I’m a sucker for art journals and sketch pads. I’m also a sucker for shoes. So this summer I merged the two obsessions. Instead of purchasing books of paper for drawing, I bought canvas shoes—canvas high-tops, canvas low-tops, canvas espadrilles. All make a great 3D platform for doodling. Unlike much of my doodling, creating the wacky footwear was not about prayer; it was just about play.
The day I found a rackful of $7 espadrilles, I thought I had won the lottery. I bought three pairs. And I started singing:
“I got shoes; you got shoes; all God’s children got shoes.
When I get to Heaven
Gonna put on my shoes
I’m gonna walk all over God’s Heaven,
My immediate thought was, “All God’s children don’t have shoes.” Not yet. In the song, shoes are the fulfillment of God’s promise of prosperity. Shoes might not seem like an impressive status symbol to me, but owning shoes for the slaves who sang the song was a huge deal. Shoes might also have been a fantasized item necessary for escape from bondage. How do you travel on the arduous road to freedom with nothing on your feet? When Moses leads the congregation of Israel out of the land of Egypt, God tells the people how to flee hurriedly “with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet.” (Exodus 12: 11) So of course God’s children want shoes to negotiate the rugged terrain to freedom. At least in Heaven, all God’s children would have shoes; all God’s children would be free.
P.S. There’s no reason I couldn’t have prayed while I drew the shoes. I just didn’t think of it at the time. Looking at the shoes now reminds me to pray for the recipients.