Sunday, November 27, 2016

Kristin Schell: Barefoot Hospitality

Kristin Schell: Barefoot Hospitality

"My neighbor and I walked slowly side-by-side down our street to her house. She opened the front door and motioned with her hand to a rack neatly lined with shoes.

“Please,” she said in a heavy accent I have grown to understand. I slipped my shoes off, acutely aware of my need for a pedicure.

This was the first time I had been invited inside my neighbor’s home. We usually meet in the front yard at the Turquoise Table or at neighborhood gatherings. Barefoot, I followed my host into the kitchen for a delightful morning of conversation while savoring homemade chai.

Taking your shoes off before entering someone’s home is one of the world’s most universal customs. To put off the shoes, or sandals, has long been an act of respect in many cultures and religions. In ancient times, it was forbidden to enter a temple or holy place with shoes on. Jews removed their shoes whenever they entered a house as a sign of civility and reverence. The priests of Israel wore no shoes while ministering. Moses and Joshua were commanded to take off their shoes when on holy ground."