Weathering the Walk: After Record Rain


It is difficult to walk in the mud that covers an Oso sad town.

Glacial grief in the valley of the shadow of Slide Hill.

The search-and-rescue crew walks single file,

Mud suctions every step.

Trying as they might not to sink up to their waists,

Throwing down plywood to create walkways

Slowly moving muck, as heavy as fresh concrete,

Electronic detectors, beeping.

Hoping to find someone that found a bit of air.

But … when they discover human remains,

Working feet stop and the silence is absorbed by the mud.

Then a chorus of chainsaws resume.


Key words rearranged from article and source of photo:



Tightly-Knit Community Marches through Pain of Loss


Three days after the school shooting rampage on February 27, 2012, students marched to Chardon High School in Ohio paying tribute to those killed and wounded.

One Pair at a Time


Lita’s Story: Tracings in the Attic


 “When I was cleaning out my grandmother’s attic after her death, I found a dusty box stuffed with aged yellowed envelopes. I was intrigued when I lifted out the first envelope; it had a German stamp postmarked 1947 and inside were two paper foot tracings. The next envelope also contained foot tracings and the next and the next. Some were cut out in the shape of feet, others were drawn on paper, tracing the outline of an entire family’s feet…

 I carried the box downstairs to show my mom. She reached for the envelope I held out to her. “You found the tracings,” she said. “I thought Mother had burned them.”

 Mom held the tracings like treasured belongings. “We searched everywhere to find shoes for them all,” she said. She remembered piles of shoes when she was a little girl, and boxes filled with clothes and food to send to people starving in Europe after World War II. She remembered they sent soap and candles too, even toys and sweets for the children. And they knitted socks to fill the shoes they sent.”

 As many Americans gave shoes, post-war Europeans stepped into them. Each tracing identified a person and a size.  Cut by desperate hands and sent in envelopes to the US, the tracings put feet to international reconciliation. One pair at a time.

New Shoes Help Kids Cross Barriers

From: Helping homeless kids put their best foot forward       By Laura Klairmont, CNN

When five-year-old Nicholas Lowinger visited a homeless shelter, his mother cautioned him not to show off his new light-up sneakers to the kids there. Nicholas soon understood why.

“I saw other kids my age who looked just like me. The only difference was, they were wearing old, tattered shoes that were falling apart. Some didn’t have a pair of shoes to call their own,” said Nicholas, now 15. …”Homeless children…shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to play sports or go to school because they don’t have a pair of shoes.”

That first shelter visit left a strong impression on Nicholas, who started donating all the shoes he’d outgrown to local shelters. But he quickly realized that his donations, while well-intentioned, weren’t that helpful. “It bothered me that I only had used shoes to give to them instead of new shoes that fit right,” he said. “No two people’s feet are identical, and if you are wearing someone else’s worn shoes, your feet aren’t going to be very comfortable.”

So in 2010, at the age of 12, Nicholas started a program that donates new shoes to homeless children…”I didn’t want to make one donation and stop there,” he said. “I wanted it to be something I could do for the rest of my life.” With the help of his parents, he then started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation. Since 2010, the organization has donated new footwear to more than 10,000 homeless children in 21 states.


A Modern Day Parable: Stepping Into Boston’s Shoes

My name is Boston.  I got that nickname because I used to wear red socks when I wore suits to the office.  No office, no suits, and no matching socks for me these days.  A few years back, I got myself into a few fixes… and since then I’ve been of “no fixed address.”

The wind blew me into a familiar doorway. I poked my head into the warm air. The local church center was humming with people. Some were sitting, some standing, and others kneeling.  The air was a mix of the soup of the day and the odors of many yesterdays.  No one saw me right away, but what I saw and heard was like a welcome sign: good humor and tenderness. 

I watched for a moment; worn street feet disappeared into plastic basins filled with warm water and anti-bacterial soap. Smiles bubbled up all around. I could see disinfectant, skin lotion, massage oil, nail clippers, latex gloves, and all sorts of supplies at each foot-washing station.  The line of people waiting was long. I entered in at the back of the line and joked that it wasn’t just the “soup kitchen,” but the “soap kitchen” now. 

When it was my turn, I sat, pulled up my pant legs and took off my tattered shoes. In my heart, I felt buck-naked—exposed. My socks were a mess of holes and gave off an unholy stink.  Not a pretty picture: cracked heels from days on cement and nights on cardboard, calluses that were living proof of life’s wrong rubs. The broken blister on my crooked toe looked red, but at least it had stopped gushing.  My long toenails were brownish yellow and some of them hurt.  The big toe on my left foot still felt wooden from last month’s incident with frostbite.  I hadn’t known my feet were so badly off…

Recent stories of my vagabond life came pouring out of my mouth.  The warm soapy water and the tender washing eased some of the painful details to the surface.  The woman doing the washing was careful, diligently scrubbing and nodding as she listened.  She dried my feet on a soft towel. Everything that could be removed was and everything else was absorbed. She dumped the dark water down the drain, returning with a clean cotton cloth, fragrant oil, and giant nail clippers. 

Once broken, now breaking—my feet shed the inner tears that long-sought pampering provokes.  She continued until she achieved a baby-softness; a semblance of trimmed health remained.  She looked at her work with pride and then met my eyes with a glow.  She put the fresh socks on me and I felt cotton like I had never felt cotton before. (I asked for the red ones!)

She walked with me over to the boxes of donated shoes and boots. I sat again to get fitted.  Luxury hath no bounds.  Then she prayed. More tears, hers and mine. Mid-life, I experienced a fresh start. I wondered why she did this for me. I knew that my walk and something else inside, at least for the day, had changed. 


© 2013 Teresa Sandhu. All rights reserved

This was previously published in Little Trinity Print. It is reprinted with permission of Little Trinity Church, Toronto Ontario. 

On and Off the Streets


A 5:30 a.m. run on the inner city streets of Baltimore is a real accomplishment. But there is more to it. People running together – some with homes and some without – are also testing the connection that running helps eradicate homelessness and paves the way for personal change.

Back on My Feet ( turns traditional thinking on its head.  It isn’t about getting those experiencing homelessness “off the streets”; it is about joining them “on the streets”.

Check out the website for this organization’s storybook beginning, its statistically impressive contribution to individual lives, and its expansion to eleven cities in the USA. 


(Adapted from: “Back on My Feet  fights homelessness with running”. The News Hole. September 11, 2013. By Jenna McLaughlin.)