What to do With This Flat-footed Soul?

by Nancy Swihart


You have fallen arches.”  

 I was caught off-guard. The orthopedist had said it so matter-of-factly.

My rather large, wide feet were nothing to speak of, but at least they left pretty, arched footprints in the sand. And now, here I was with the unexpected diagnosis of “flat feet.”

I discovered from my little bit of research that aging appeared to be the cause of the deterioration. Just simple wear and tear on this worn earthly tent.

And the effects? To start with, no pretty footprints in the sand. A little more serious, though, my balance may be affected, and there will probably be more pressure on the knees and ankles.

I tend to perceive my condition as being more tied to the ground. More body surface touching the earth. Less spring in my step, less bounce to my walk, less surety of where my feet will take me.

BUT, as I ponder my recent malaise, I wonder, could it be that old age has gone deeper? Could one have a flat-footed soul?

Lately, my soul has lost some of its bounce. It seems more tied to the material world, less arched into the wonders of the unseen, the promise of great and mighty things promised in Jeremiah 33:3. All of the great and. mighty things have become dull and insignificant, out of mind, almost out of desire.

Perhaps that promise is to the young who still have arches in their souls? It may be that they are the ones chosen to do the dreaming, have the expectations, and see with younger eyes the world that is painted with God’s creative hand.

Or, is there a remedy for this aged, flat-footed soul? Can I clean the mud from a soul plodding through the dregs of “earthy” stuff?

As I am writing, the literature professor within me begins to emerge, and I remember one of my favorite poets I had introduced to my students so many years ago. From the recesses of this weary soul comes a whisper, “Don”t give up! Yes, there is hope, there is beauty. Look up.”

In his poem, “God’s Grandeur,” Gerard Manly Hopkins, offers not only an observation of what this soul is feeling, but he also holds out hope for it.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Why is my soul not arched in joyful anticipation of seeing that grandeur?

Granted, this world is not perfect. Man has polluted it, and my unshod flat-footed soul has been trampling aimlessly through it. Yet, I still long to experience the fertile soil of an unblemished world.

Father, may I feel the warmth of your Holy Spirit who is hovering over my world, loving it, breathing back life into the bleared and smeared world. May I allow You to seep down into the arches of my soul and breathe in the new life and give new hope?

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