Lately I have begun caring for my feet. I haven’t really thought of it as practice per se, but on some level that is what it has become. It is at least something I can do.  

It wasn’t as if I really even set out to tend to them as much as it was that they finally demanded by attention.  For years my feet have been suffering from neglect. Not pretty, but part of me the same, they have endured nasty fungal infections; brittle, yellow nails; knobby calluses and dry cracked skin. Oh, I would occasionally apply some antifungal cream, just long enough for the symptoms to abate a bit (though I had learned that the treatment required my continued application long after the symptoms were gone) but then quickly continue along in my neglectful ways.

Finally, after a week of camping where my shoes were wet most of the time, they developed painful blisters between my toes, which I could no longer ignore, so I committed to finally healing them. I set up my medications and lotions and nail conditioners on my bedside stand, where they greet me each morning before I rise and each evening as I lay down to sleep, and placed the pumice stone on the shower shelf next to the shampoo.

What I have learned is this:

Attend to that which needs healing and nurture first, before the distractions and demands of the day (and of life) take hold and lead you away from your loving attention. It takes only a few moments to set your course.

Start small. Tend to the small, to the daily. My feet, I can heal. I don’t need to heal my whole life at once. I don’t need to figure it all out at once, know clearly ‘what next’ or even what direction I am going today. I don’t need to completely revamp myself to know ‘who’ I am. I just need to love completely who I am now.

Its funny, this summer– no, perhaps this season of my life– has been filled with such ‘big’ thoughts, as I have been in the midst of a major life transition, in the midst of wondering ‘what next’, ‘who am I now’, and ‘where and how will I be after this?’ that I hadn’t even noticed. How quietly this practice began—unpretentious, unconscious even. Tending my feet.  But the symbolism is not lost on me –  that I should begin here with the very part of me that will certainly carry me into this next place, with the part of my being that is in touch with the ground, that supports me and roots me. Heal this first. Nurture this first. And it is not lost on me that this is the part of the body that Jesus focused on as he was leaving one world to dwell in another.


When I was letting my hair grow out from brunette to gray, one of the things that I loved about that transition was the evidence of growth I could see.  From week to week. I could say’ look how much I have grown’. The toenail on my big toe had turned black and has begun to grow pink again from the root, and so once again I can witness my  growth. It is remarkable the way in which we gradually become brand new.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. emmaatlast
    Aug 23, 2010 @ 22:51:39

    Just found this in my favorite dream/symbol dictionary. hmmmm

    Foot (Feet) – looking at your feet is asking to look at the direction (or lack of) you are taking in life; feet moving forard means making progress; gronding, balance in your life; what your life is based on; contact with nature; washing your feet means healing.



  2. Carolyn
    Aug 26, 2010 @ 09:53:37

    Vicki, I appreciate your offering here. How often during the last years have my feet called out to me for tending. The psoriosis- like inflammation that turns them fiery red, itchy and scaly can be my early warning signal that there is ambivalence and doubt about the way I’m moving through my day. Though I would love to be free of this physical sign of distress which I can treat fairly well with application of a prescription ointment twice a day, it helps to remind me of the amazing unity residing within my human body.



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