In first grade I had a pair of red rubber boots. They made a rainy day beautiful for me. I loved being able to step in puddles without getting my feet wet. And they were the happy bold color of red.
I hadn’t thought of those boots for years, until I was stumping around Fred Meyer, my favorite local department store, after foot surgery. There was a rack of fun, printed rubber boots, with a sale sign beckoning me. The multicolored dotted pair stuck out to me because it matched my favorite umbrella. I picked them up, looked at my shopping list, noticing what was not on the list: fun rubber rain boots. After a moment of hesitation, I placed them in the shopping cart and smiled, remembering the red rubber boots from 46 years ago.
The Red Rain Boot Day that sticks out in my mind is one where I arrive at school as the rain subsided to find the water level just over the curb of one corner near the first grade classroom. I looked at the water. Then I looked at my boots, and wondered how far I could wade in until the water reached the top of my boots. Seeing no one was looking, I ventured in, just far enough to learn that water begins to come over the top, sucking more water in, fast. I was left with a wet foot. The teacher scolded and when I got home my mom said I learned not to do that again. Well, maybe…. The thing that impresses me now about that experience is it was unusual for me to venture that far in. I was basically timid and some traumatic things happened that year to raise the fear factor in me, so I became more of an introvert and a stutterer. Now, I realize that fearful, timid little girl is not my true identity. The real me is more like the adventurous little girl who saw the wonder and beauty of a rainy day, and wanted to find out what it was like to go deeper and further into experiencing Life. I want to experience more of the wonder of nature. I want to go further and deeper into my relationship with God, to pursue intimacy.
The new multi-colored polka dot rain boots are a symbol of my identity. They also have a practical purpose. I took them with me to the beach this past week. It was stormy. The wind was blowing so hard we could lean into it and be held up. Rain like cold needles raced at us. If we would’ve been stuck in such weather, it would’ve been miserable, but knowing we could walk back to our cozy, warm room with a cup of coffee, gave us the freedom to laugh and play like children. The boots, along with a pair of good socks kept my feet warm and dry. They were easy to walk in, even with my sore feet.
The next day was almost balmy, the calm following the storm. The polka-dotted boots allowed me to walk and splash in the shallow surf, enjoying my favorite place in the world. I was overcome with gratitude and praise. Then came the knowing I would pursue healing so I could walk further, both in the physical and spiritual realms. HOPE. JOY. LIFE ABUDANT. I walked two miles, the first time since before surgery.
And all from a pair of brightly colored rubber rain boots? Well, not just that, but it really is amazing what God can use to give us messages of love and hope.