Many Footprints on the Sand
Lately I’ve been reflecting on how ironic it is that we are all experiencing isolation and loneliness, and yet we are all facing parallel and gigantic traumas/challenges each day, alongside one another, even if miles apart, or only 6 feet.
So often, we approach our faith with a personal outlook, as if we are only responsible for ourselves or our own personal mental and spiritual health. But if we are to truly "love our neighbors as ourselves", we must open our eyes and recognize, it’s not about us(individually), it’s about all of us(living in community).
So, I’ve taken a new perspective to a familiar poem as a visualization or dream for today's sermon. I hope you enjoy it.
"Many Footprints on the Sand"
I came to the end of my journey through the deserts and wilderness of life, and before I followed Jesus into the sea of mercy, I turned around to take a look back at my pathway on the sand. There were many footsteps behind me, some where I traveled alone and some where many pairs of footprints seem to gather around me. I was curious about those footprints on the sand, and so I said to Jesus, “These gatherings of footprints don’t match my memories. In the moments I felt so alone, there are many, but in the moments I felt so alive there are only two sets, and then there is this great ditch with one set of footprints on each side. What does this all mean?”
Jesus said to me, “My beloved friend and partner, you opened your heart to join me in the work of peacemaking long ago. In the moments when you felt so alive and involved in your community, we were working side bide side, and you see my footsteps walking next to yours. During this time you helped so many people, that when tragedy arrived in your life, they came to help you. You may have felt isolated and alone, but your neighbor was praying for you, and your sister brought you food. There was even a grocery store clerk who prayed for you and tried to brighten your day! He prayed for you, too. Even when you felt the most alone and doubted your faith, your friends and neighbors were carrying you alongside of me.”
I was amazed, and yet, I still didn’t fully understand. “So how did I get over the ditch if I was walking alone? Where were my neighbors then?”
“You didn’t walk over the ditch," Jesus replied. "No one did. We all got stuck in there, and we sat together. The single set of footprints you see are my own. I carried all of you as you made your way into it, and I sat with you while you tried to move forward, but when you fought against one another, and the hole only became deeper. Finally one day, when you all gave up and decided to work together, I was able to carry you out on my back. It took a while for everyone to get back on their feet, but one by one, the children of earth began to move forward and walked together again. You may have given up on each other, but I never gave up on you. You might remember that the ditch began in 2020, but the people of earth had been digging that ditch for quite a while. There have been many ditches like this throughout time, and each time I sit with my people in the darkness and pray for their resurrection, that we all might climb out into a New day when neighbors can love each other because they have found love and forgiveness for themselves. I love you, and I forgive you. Will you forgive yourself? Will you forgive your neighbors? If the answer is yes, you may join me in the sea of mercy.”