Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sharing Life

I was going to scribble a thoughtful post about Tom's.  How I was first intrigued by them, and then disappointed by their sudden popularity.  Everyone is wearing them right now. And if you know me, you know I'm snobbishly allergic to wearing what everyone else is wearing.  So now that I'm already -sort of- writing about Tom's, I will just mention that I've felt the need to change my attitude.  Instead, I'm choosing to be excited that this people-focused company has successfully popularised their shoes. [find out why here] I still don't think I'll be wearing them, but Coo is. The narrow shape fits her thin feet perfectly, and the velcro fastening means she can put them on herself!

An ethical company made it big?!  Rejoice, and be happy.  Isn't this what all of us ethical consumers have been hopefully anticipating for years? Tom's shoes are no canvas trainer made in Vietnamese sweat-shops, which reminds me... yes, I do still buy Converse, as they're practical and cute for the boys.  However, only in used condition, won on eBay.  Other people's trash, for which they paid The Man, becomes our treasure.

Anyway... as I sat down to write, I began thinking more about community instead of Tom's.

Fourteen years ago, in the Borders of Scotland, I attended Bible college.  It was my first foray away from home, an eleven-month-long adventure.  Right in the midst of community.  I was the youngest student, and as a result I think the older and wiser ones didn't hesitate to let me know if I needed to be told off or given a wise piece of advice.  Looking back, I am so thankful for all those people who didn't keep their mouths shut for fear of offending me.  During a recent visit to Oxford, I was able to catch up with two of these significant people, and voice my appreciation.

We shared so much: food, learning, relaxing, studying, talking, debating, having fun, working. We shared life together.  This is what made all the difference.  I trusted them because I shared life with them.

In the last month we've said goodbye to three members of our community here: three people we've shared life with.  One headed off for her own year of Bible college, while two travelled away across the Atlantic into a new stage in their lives.

I was reminded of how sharing life with people can be beautiful and ugly, happy and sad, peaceful and crazy, such a paradox of colours and feelings and situations.

Last night I sat in our cosy, red-painted lounge, with the fairy lights etching out a gentle glow around the ceiling, and felt the sorrow and joy of the last eight years in this house.  So many people have passed through our home. We have given out to them; we have received from them.  People similar to us -in their beliefs, journeys, and spirituality- and people different to us, in every way possible.

I'm sensing that it's time to let go of the more difficult memories.  Time to be done with remembering the conflicts and the sorrows that have come with our choice to be very real and involved with people.  Time to say goodbye mentally to those past-midnight counselling sessions. Time to throw away the thought that we didn't do enough. Time to let the past burn itself out.  It's not wrong; it's just not now.

I feel the need to celebrate the now -the present journey we are on, and the future that awaits us.  


  1. Well my darling Flat Mate, some of my "telling off" probably was unnecessary. It's amazing how immature nineteen year olds prove themselves to be by trying to be mature. Chances are I could have used with a lot more of that telling off.

    But I know the feeling you’re describing. In Slovenia it seemed like our house had a revolving door, but since coming to China it’s hard to keep it going as much as we’d like. Maybe we’ve needed a break and didn’t know it.

    So who did you see in Oxford?

    I saw Toms in the States last summer and wasn’t sure what to think of them. I’d have to try a pair on and I only caught a glimpse of them on someone else’s (much smaller than mine) foot. I like having shoes with major arch support and Toms don’t look like they would oblige me.

  2. Ah... I'm e-mailing you soon! You will never guess who I saw today!!! :)

  3. Just so you know Sis, a guy named Bob is making shoes now and he has decided to give 2 pair away for every 1 pair someone buys. My thought is if he can afford to do that why not just go out and give the shoes to people. What do you think oh non-conforming one?

  4. Are they called Bob's? :)

  5. Very good post! You and Dan have had an amazing last 10 will never know how many lives you actually touched.
    By the way, I was given a new pair of Tom's this year. I would take another pair, if someone would give them to me(: They are very comfortable!


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