Saturday, 30 August 2008

Barefoot ... poetry and theology

My friend Anne Coidan calls herself a barefoot theologian. Now she's retired she has the freedom to serve the gospel message rather than the church institution. I rather fancy trying to develop "une théologie à pieds nus" one which takes local and international concerns seriously; a theology which listens as well as teaches - mind you this is hardly a new idea.
In German Franciscan churches are often called Barfusserkirchen - Barefoot churches, because of St Francis' insistance on going barefoot. In the Bible barefootedness can be a sign of awe and respect in the presence of God - think of Moses and the burning bush; it can also be a sign of humility, repentance or poverty.
In Stanley Spencer's painting of the last supper the disciples are all pictured barefoot - a way of linking patten and chalice with the towel and the bowl; commemoration, eucharist and service are one.
Meanwhile our wonderful holiday break in Bern has put me in touch once more with the writings of Kurt Marti and his "Mein barfüssig Lob" My bearfooted praise - poetry that is simple, short and linguistically and theologically very rich.

Here's part I of his poem entitled Gegen den Strom - (against the flow)

Ist einer
nicht schon
auf wasser gegangen?
das macht ihm keiner nach

dass du
eine nichtschwimmerin
gegen den strom schwimmst
ist kein geringeres wunder.