These are a pair of my favorite shoes. I can’t wear them for a lot of things because they are quite literally falling apart. There are holes, the soles are largely worn out but they fit PERFECTLY. They’re my “quick pair” of shoes – if I need to run out to the car early in the morning to take the trash out, quick drive to pick kids up, etc. – they’re my go-to shoes.

This morning, I read a chapter about shoes in the same book I referenced in yesterday’s post. This chapter talked about Courtney’s experience of Kurdish shoes, called klash. Without going into detail, they sound to be extremely well made, comfortable, and unique shoes. He talks of how his beginning to wear them helped to build up relationships and connections with others. But there’s something unique about them – they don’t have a left and a right. He writes:

The goal in caring for your klash, then, is to keep them pointing straight ahead rather than allowing them to curve and conform to one side or the other. Klash should never be allowed to be strictly “left” or strictly “right,” for that would run them into the ground and render them useless much more quickly than those shoes that spend an equal amount of time on each side. (Courtney, Jeremy (2013-10-01). Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time (pp. 37-38). Howard Books. Kindle Edition. )

Courtney uses this as an analogy to one of the ways that his experience of Iraq and the ways that God worked through that have changed him. Again, he writes:

While many friends around the globe were digging their trenches deeper where they already stood, my new pair of shoes was calling me to keep walking, and to do so in a way that refused to conform to the arbitrary sides we sometimes make up for our various sparring matches. Yes, I recognize that there are real political, theological, and philosophical differences that warrant serious debate. But I don’t want to be easily summed up as a “left-leaning liberal” so that the far right can ignore me and brand me immoral. And I don’t want to be summed up as a “right-leaning conservative” so that the far left can ignore me and brand me a religious nut.

Our souls, like Kurdish klash, require the discipline of spending time on both sides in order to not get warped, in order to stay straight. I no longer accept the zero-sum worldview that says we cannot simultaneously be on the side of the Democrats and Republicans; Americans, Israelis, and Iranians; Jews and Palestinians; Sunnis and Shias; Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. I choose them all.

I don’t lean left or right. I lean in. I lean forward, because that’s where love lives. (Courtney, Jeremy (2013-10-01). Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time (pp. 38-40). Howard Books. Kindle Edition.)

Luke’s passages today were the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus and the parable of the Ten Pounds/Minas (Luke 19). In both of the cases, Jesus did something that was not expected of him. He called down Zacchaeus and stayed at the home of this hated tax collector. The later parable turns upside down the general conceptions of how God’s working in the world was to be experienced. This is not unusual for Jesus – he doesn’t often stay within the lines that we want to try to draw around him. He lives outside those lines and outside of those plans.

Yet I (and I think we) want to stay in the places where we feel comfortable and safe. We want things to be predictable and pre-cut for us. Its easier to stay in my political left or my political right rather than try to enter into the viewpoints of the other. Its safer to simply look at someone of a different culture or language or religion and brand them “other” rather than try to understand them and their life and belief (even if we don’t agree or believe in the same way). The list could continue about so many other areas of life.

What I heard in this passage today and in what Courtney wrote today is a reminder that we don’t (and we won’t) always agree with others, but it is vital that we start from the place of love rather than the place of left or right.

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