Finding spiritual meaning in an ugly clay foot

I’ve seen mosaics with gilded halos around the heads of saints and stained glass windows that stretched 20 feet or more, glowing with light. I’ve stood within a breath of Michelangelo’s la Pieta, and I still remember how no detail was rushed or skipped – every muscle, every vein captured there in marble.

And now, I’ve seen the ugly clay foot in my friend Linda Gordon’s car.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what it was when I first leaned over to buckle my seatbelt. I just saw it out of the corner of my eye, sitting there taped to the dashboard by the clock. It was an inch and a half, 2 inches at most. Pinkish, like my skin, and it had one slightly chipped toe courtesy of an unfortunate fall to the floorboard of the Kia.

I took in a quick breath before I blurted out, “What is that?”

“It’s a foot,” she said, as if it were the most common thing in the world.

She had gotten it at church in the days leading up to Easter. She had her choice among a rooster, some silver coins or a foot – all reminders of Jesus’ final days before his crucifixion.

The rooster was kind of big and unattractive, she said, with a shrug, so she went with the small, ugly foot.

“I painted its toenails after it fell,” she said, as she backed out of her driveway. “I think it looks a lot better now.”

It was hard to argue. She had done a terrific job painting the toenails a shade of cotton candy pink.

“It reminds me that we’re all on a journey,” she said, the foot bobbing just a tiny bit on top of its loop of tape. It was slightly unconventional, and certainly unexpected, but there it was: Her very own quirky religious symbol.

I still like ornate crosses and finely detailed nativity scenes, but I began to see the awkward clay foot in a slightly different light.

Take the next step in faith. Walk with God. Add beauty on the journey, it seemed to say.

“Do you think I could get my own foot for my dashboard?” I asked.

She promised to ask if there were any left over at church. “But you’ll want to paint the toenails,” she advised.

Of course.

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