Shoe the Children

by Aaron Notarianni Stephens. 0 Comments

Bonfire-smoke-filled-beaches provided the perfect setting for my existential teenage years. On the shores of Lake Erie, nature’s incense sometimes clouded, and sometimes gave clarity to my wondering and wandering mind. It was on these beaches that I was reintroduced to an anthem I vaguely recalled being played from the radio of my family’s car in my earliest of earliest memories. The lyrics to Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like an Eagle made an impression and left a lingering echo that has whispered to me as guiding principle in my life.

“Feed the babies, who don't have enough to eat; Shoe the children, with no shoes on their feet; House the people, livin' in the street; Oh, oh, there's a solution,” a verse of the song inspires and parallels messages from the New Testament.

The act of moving beyond one’s self and helping those who need it is a message for the past, the present, and the future. At times, I feel like I am living like this. At times, I am far from this creed. And all too often, I am too self-concerned to even gauge my attitude on the subject.

Recent reflection on my life caused pause and begged for action to move beyond myself. That is why, with insecurity and trepidation, I am stepping out in faith and joining others from my church on a mission trip to the underserved in various orphanages and other communities in Guatemala.

I write this not as the righteous boasting in a blog to draw attention. I write this because I strongly believe that we all have the power to help each other and be part of a solution, if only the conscious thought to do so took a more prominent intensity in our day-to-day lives. And I believe that eagerness to action can be achieved if we simply remind ourselves to do so.

So, look around our greater community and get involved. Support local non-profit such as The Arc of Frederick County or The Frederick Rescue Mission. Volunteer to assist with homeless pets at Animal Control. Look around the world and get involved. You can bring water to a community in Guatemala through Forever Changed International. You can connect the world together through technology at One Laptop per Child. You can provide basic human services to deaf children who have been shunned from their communities in Uganda through the Boanerges Deaf Initiative. You can shoe the children at TOMS.

The beauty of us all as a people is that we are hardwired to be passionate about something. And while those passions might vary, they vary so that all the different needs that exist can be filled. We need to remember to be ignited. That fervor burns in you because you were made to make a difference in that area. The difference won’t happen without you.

I close with a full circle trip that began in the flames on a beach and gave rise to an eagle in me. As I prepared for Guatemala, I was given an assignment to take advantage of a recent $1.00 flip flop sale at Old Navy. Fifty pair of shoes are crammed tightly into a suitcase and waiting for international travel. It is a very small gesture that I am told by others who have traveled before me will bring great joy to the children who will have shoes on their feet. 

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