Faith at Work LXIII

October 2009

One of the final passages in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians talks about putting on the whole armour of God. It includes footwear, of course, and it’s so important to have appropriate protection on your feet if you are walking, or running, for any substantial distance. Once, when we were walking the traditional pilgrimage way around the isle of Iona with others who were staying at the Abbey with us, one brave soul walked all the way round without any shoes or boots at all. “I’m trying to be a traditional penitent, finding out what it is like to feel all the sharp stones and to squelch through the muddy bits as well.” he said. His feet survived – just – and he probably felt closer to nature, and to God perhaps, than we did.

That reminds me of the time when we were walking the Lyke Wake Walk across the North York Moors one day many years ago. After the first nine miles, I decided to change out of my “sensible” boots into relatively flimsy trainers; one of my ankles was being rubbed and getting rather sore. Luckily, the weather was dry and the ground underfoot had dried out over the summer months and was nice and springy, so I got away with it, but I wouldn’t recommend walking thirty-odd miles in such inadequate footwear. Your feet are vital for getting about and need to be in good condition and to stay that way.

If you ever travel down to Glastonbury, you will probably pass through the small village of Street, famous for shoemaking. The village grew up around the leather-workers in the nineteenth century when James Clark had his moment of inspiration in 1825. Among the sheepskin rugs, the off-cuts and cast-offs were piling up when James had a brainwave: “Slippers!” and the rest, as they say, is history. A few stitches and a few years later, the sheepskin slipper was born; today their range of sensible shoes is huge. Read more about it on - they have an interesting history and heritage.

It is yet another example of good community practice within the Quaker tradition. As he continued with the family business, James’ youngest son William remained true to his Quaker roots. He invested in the community, looked after his workers and built them homes; many can still be seen in Street today.

Paul writes to the Ephesians that: “as shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace” [Eph. 6:15]. Sydney Carter was an ardent supporter of the peace movement and wrote many popular songs that challenge us to walk with our God, so let us pray, with him:

One more step along the world I go.
One more step along the world I go.
From the old things to the new
keep me travelling along with you.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2009-08-28

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