Sharon Garlough Brown – Barefoot Testimony

If you aren’t familiar with the writing of Sharon Garlough Brown, you just don’t know what you’re missing. Her Sensible Shoes series is soooo stinkin’ good! Take a minute to read her guest post below. Comment, especially if you’re a fan!

Barefoot Characters Have Powerful Testimony

“All that summer conceals, winter reveals,” author Annie Dillard writes. It’s a quote I read years ago, and it returns to me today as I look out my window at the stripped trees, their naked forms gray and stark against the morning sky. The lush green of summer is gone, and now we see the structure and shape of each gnarled, twisted branch. Winter is a season of vulnerable, courageous beauty. It’s the “Here I am,” maskless and open, waiting and watching season. And it whispers words of invitation and hope for those who have ears to hear.

As Barefoot, the third book in the Sensible Shoes series opens, Meg Crane is peering out her window on a winter morning, the bleakness of the landscape mirroring the sorrow in her own soul. An accusing voice rings in her head, telling her she ought to be more resilient, that she ought to be able to bounce back from suffering and move on. Meg has known people able to withstand pressure with remarkable equanimity, to stretch, bend, and adapt to suffering with grace, with hope. But, she laments, she has never been one of them.

While Meg ponders what it would mean to be “resilient,” her eyes land upon a certain tree in the neighbors’ backyard, a tree with a history. Here’s what Meg sees and remembers:

The gnarled wild cherry tree in the next-door neighbors’ backyard, visible from Meg’s window ever since she could remember, offered a picture of resilient hope. Years ago, when Mr. and Mrs. Anderson lived there, violent winds tore through West Michigan on a balmy summer night and nearly ripped the tree out, leaving the roots exposed. The next day neighbors gathered around it, some of them bracing the trunk upright with hands and shoulders while others stamped the roots back into the soil again. Mother chided them from an upstairs window: they were fools, making such a fuss over a tree. But Meg secretly cheered them on. The tree always leaned after that storm, but it lived, its lopsidedness testifying to resilience, its yearly blossoms to hope.

Resilient in suffering, not impervious to it. That was the silent witness of the stooped tree: not denial of the storm, but perseverance, character, and hope as a result of it.

Oh, for that kind of testimony.

I wonder what you see as you survey the winter landscape, not only the landscape of the physical world but the landscape of your own soul? Are there barren and desolate places you prefer to conceal? What would it mean for you to embrace the invitation of this season, to stand open and vulnerable and exposed before the God who sees you and knows you and loves you with an extravagant, embracing, unchanging fervor? And what might it be like to stand before someone else with a courageous “Here I am” posture of openness and honesty?

In winter I am reminded that there is a particular beauty in the wounded, imperfect lives of those who have weathered storms and stand, bearing witness to a resilient hope which perseveres and to a God who will make all things well.

Oh, for that kind of testimony.

  • Marcia Bednar

    The “Here I am” posture is definitely very vulnerable…you have to get beyond what others think and know that when you do it, you are being obedient to what God is calling you to expose. It may help someone else. I love your writing Sharon. Barefoot is on my list of books to read during the month of February. Definitely the winter season to read it in here in Michigan!