Taking Off My Shoes

Poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote these words:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit ’round it, and pluck blackberries,

It caught my attention me this week. After seeing this piece of her poem, I went to the book of Exodus and to remind myself of God’s instruction to Moses.

Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” -Exodus 3:5 

Moses was entering holy ground, not that the section of earth he was entering was holy, but he was entering God’s presence. Where the Lord is, is holy ground. Through God’s teaching, Moses took his sandals off as commanded. I wish I could have seen his face and sort of wonder if he quizzically and slowly took them off or quickly ripped them off as if he were about to jump into water. My guess is the latter since he proceeded to cover his face. Moses straight up GOT that he was in the presence of the Lord.

To approach the Lord flippantly is showing great disrespect. Sometimes I need an attitude check and a reminder that I am not seeking His presence. I don’t want to become so casual with God that I don’t even attempt to remove my shoes like I am in the presence of a King. I love that I can come to Him as a child and He hears my ineloquent prayers, but I pray I don’t wander around picking blackberries and dismiss being in the presence of the Lord.

I want to look around me and see His presence. He is truly everywhere and everything He has made is good. Sometimes in my dry, daily routine I pass right by. I want my heart to be ready to humble itself in His presence and be cleansed so that He can reveal Himself to me. As I pour out, He pours in. I am learning every day that the more I pay attention, the more my soul meets with God.

*The picture above is what most people know of EBB’s poem, but I thought it would be nice to see it more fully:

And truly, I reiterate…nothing’s small!
No lily-muffled hum of a summer-bee,
But finds some coupling with the spinning stars;
No pebble at your foot, but proves a sphere;
No chaffinch, but implies the cherubim:
And, – glancing on my own thin, veined wrist, –
In such a little tremor of the blood
The whole strong clamor of a vehement soul
Doth utter itself distinct.
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit ’round it, and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware
More and more, from the first similitude.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh (1857) Book VII, 1. 812-826


11 thoughts on “Taking Off My Shoes”

  1. Oh the poem, I just love it. Please let me share this gem of a post with peeps as soon as possible.
    I was thinking about the whole taking off he shoes thing. It’s such a common practice here. It shows respect to the owner of the house, it humbles you ( sometimes people get a glimpse of my dirty socks) and it also makes you feel comfortable, like a child. I have so many more thoughts on this, but I was wondering if you could expand on what it means to approach God respectfully, how does that look like on daily basis? Moreover, how do I keep from picking blackberries and miss out on the burning bush?
    Love you!


    1. Thank you! Yes, you can share. Good point about respect. I did think about visiting the Blue Mosque as I was writing. Those are good questions. Maybe I can work on a follow-up post. Thanks for the ideas. Love you too. Thanks for the confidence you have in me. 😉


  2. Even though I don’t really get poetry (wish I did), I loved this post. Great job! I hadn’t seen that you had written more. I subscribed today so I shouldn’t miss the rest.


  3. awesome post!! It helps me to remember to treat all of God’s creation with respect, and that God resides in all things. When you see a tree, don’t see the tree, but see a piece of God; don’t see a weed, but a piece of God that cries of His amazing creativity and intelligence.


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