"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shoe Perspective

I saw this pictures on my twitter feed a little while back, and had to share:


It was supremely ironic that they just happened to show up on my feed in immediate succession. If this doesn't illustrate what's wrong with our priorities in society today, I'm not sure what will.

The second picture, well, you can see that fairly easily. It's a quite sizable collection of "Kobe's", if the caption is accurate. Kobe's, similar to "Jordan's", are the shoe line named after the basketball star, Kobe Bryant. In today's day-and-age, they are quite valuable. I'm no expert, but I'm going to say roughly that a collection like that could be worth as much or more than a new car.

However, don't you think something is a bit off about that?
The first picture is obviously cut off, yet you may still recognize what you can see of it since it is a somewhat famous image of a young Austrian boy getting a new pair of shoes during World War II. Here's what you're missing in all its glory...


Notice the simple and well-worn shoes on the boy's feet. No "Kobe's" there. Now, notice the shoes he has in his hands: simple, plain dress shoes. Again, definitely not "Kobe's." I don't know about you, but I remember being this age, and dress shoes were definitely not something to be happy about. They were uncomfortable, usually hand-me-downs so they were too big or too small, and in no way were they cool. Actually, my dress shoes now are nothing to get excited about either. Of course, this boy lived in a different day and age, so styles are different now than they were then.

Nevertheless, check out the blissfulness, the sheer mirth on display in this iconic image, and ask yourself: are you truly grateful when you receive something, even the simplest of gifts? Do you let gratitude and happiness encompass your being, or do you sulk and reject opportunities to be grateful? Do you constantly desire what others have?

We can only imagine what this young boy has been through in his few years on earth. I have no idea how much tragedy, loss, and pain he had gone through in the days, weeks, or months leading up to receiving those shoes. Living in a ravaged Austria during WWII would have been nightmarish. But, in that moment, it all seems to disappear. They are only shoes, simple material objects which we are not supposed to become too attached to; yet, the joy on display in this picture one might think the boy had seen Christ Himself, and in that there is a lesson.

In fact, if there is anything to learn from this picture, I think it boils down to three general ideas:
  1. Be simple. "Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?" Mt. 6:26. You don't need the coolest shoes, the hippest jeans, or the bestestest phone ehvar to survive. You need the essentials. Sure, material creature comforts are nice, but even in those, simpler is better: a nice fire on a winter night, a good beer, or a warm shower. Live simply and don't desire more than you need or what others have. 
  2. Gratitude is the best attitude. Have you ever given something to someone and not gotten a "thank you"? Or worse yet, have you gotten a "thank you" but merely a half-hearted one? Don't share that sort of attitude with others. Be thankful for what you have. When given something, even if it's not to your liking, show the person the gratitude they deserve. I know it can be hard, but who wouldn't want to be like the young boy in the picture above? Who wouldn't want to live with others who were just as joyful?
  3. Let joy fill your life. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Guadium  (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis admonishes some Christians "whose lives seem like lent without Easter." The Holy Father goes on to say "an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!" So, be happy! And not just happy, but joyous - even to the point of mirth. Live your life like the boy in the picture who has just received something priceless to him, because you have received a priceless gift in the death and resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ. Go about your life with a smile on your face and joy in your heart. If anything can change their world, it is the joy found in Christ's redemptive sacrifice.
What lessons can you learn from the boy in the picture and the outlandish collection of Kobe's above?

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