I love to tell the story of how I got hooked on words. How, ever since I could read, I have wanted to be a writer. I would walk around during break-time reading Sweet Valley books, because I was socially awkward at that stage (to be honest I still am) and had not made very many friends, but also because I was enthralled by the idea of delving into different worlds while remaining in this one. It was, and still is, magical. I was certain, when I grew up; that I wanted to ‘make books’. I had no idea that the process of ‘making books’ meant being a writer, but as I grew, I came to understand that it meant wielding words.
It appealed to me as a child because it gave me a way out of whatever disappointments and pain I was faced with. I could become a part of a world that was limitless. Words, in many ways, became more than an escape, it became home.
So when I was about seventeen I got my first pair of Chuck Taylors, or All Stars. Any owner of a pair of Converse sneaks will agree that these can quickly, as they did for me, become a staple of one’s wardrobe. Ever since I got them I have been wearing my sneaks with jeans, shorts, pants, and even (to my mother’s dismay) skirts and dresses. What I love about Chucks is that they’re so comfortable, they go with almost anything, and they’re super cool. They are, in a word, travelling shoes.
In Maya Angelou’s autobiography (one book in a series of six) All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes, she writes of going to Ghana and how living there helped her connect the dots of the Diaspora from Africa to America. She experienced firsthand that the Diaspora testifies to how connected we all are. The theme of home is strong in Travelling Shoes, and through anecdotes and reflection she explores how we all yearn for home; but most importantly, how home is really wherever our hearts feel invited and embraced.
I especially loved this bit:
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. It impels mighty ambitions and dangerous capers… Hoping that by doing these things, home will find us acceptable or failing that, that we will forget our awful yearning for it.”
Her words resonated with me: ‘home’ has always been a complicated topic. I have always felt that I am more of a wayfarer, more inclined to move from one place to the next than to be rooted in one spot too long. I’ve ached for home, for that place where I did not feel questioned, or like I needed to fulfil a certain role in order to be acceptable within ‘those’ surroundings to ‘those’ people. My friends say I have ‘itchy feet’ and an ‘itchy bum’.
Well, I do have itchy feet. Find myself moving about as though each place has a deadline. But God has given me travelling shoes for the journey: love, words, my faith, and His heart.
He’s with me wherever I go, and so even though the only ‘places’ I ever felt like I ‘belonged’, is in Him and in my writing; I’m pretty darn glad gave God gave me this refuge so that no matter where I am – I will always be (or find, as it were) home.
**the DustySoul recently decided to get a tattoo. Always wanted one, but after deciding that last year was the right time, God told me to wait a year. My motives at the time were wrong, so I get why He said to wait. After the long wait, I booked in an appointment with a parlour. I knew what I wanted: All Stars with wings. I feel it speaks to my story, to my being a traveler and having big dreams. Most of all, I wanted it to be a reminder and testimony of the fact that God will be with me wherever I go. I encountered opposition though, from people who feel it’s wrong because of what the Bible says, or skin cancer risks (science proves these are unfounded), or (God forbid!) wrinkly skin (rolls eyes). Truth is, it’s a grey area in the Bible, and if we’re going to judge people with tattoos, we may as well follow the Levitical Law completely and not just pick what’s convenient for us. We’re no longer under the law of the letter. The law of the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3v6). Found myself crying, because it brought me back to that place where authority dictates which direction my life should go, as it has done in the past and still tries to do (it would seem half the things I do are classified under ‘heathen’, but I can’t live life by other people’s standards). But it wasn’t a rebellion: I was not trying to prove that I’m ‘cool’/ ‘hip’/ not conservative, or whatever else people think is happening here. Also, it upset me that people were so quick to make value judgments about my character based on what is external. But I was doing this for me. And I don’t regret it. Go where the Light guides you folks.
Love and light,
“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1v9 (NIV)
“There was this one guy in his unit, real different, an intellectual, real bookworm. And over time, he became Boy’s best friend. He lent him some books to read, the first books the kid had ever read about anything. For the first time, he saw a world that was bigger than the one he had been born into – and he wanted more. He wanted to BE something more.” The Old Man, The Words