Subway Prophet

…and the words of the prophets were written on the subway walls…

On Wearing Sandals in the Winter

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A few weeks ago, I was working on a paper late in the library and so I went to my room to get into some more comfortable clothes. It was a bitter cold night with snow on the ground, but the library (as always) is practically a sauna. So, I put on my Duke sweatpants, hoodie, and sandals and headed downstairs. As I walked by the snow I thought to myself: “This is me.” It was a strange thought, but also a realization. For most of my time thus far, my sandals had been merely a novelty item I brought with me as a joke when I was packing. “When am I ever going to use these!” I said as I tossed them in my suitcase. However, that night, wearing the essential Florida footwear, there was a connection to a part of me which somewhere had become “de-colonized” (I just made that word up. It needs to be a thing!).

Over the past few months I have noticed several shifts and movements in who I am. When I first got here I was so fascinated with British culture. How they ate, how they spoke, the clothes they wore. Everything about them was endlessly fascinating. In the name of cultural investigation I started using my fork tines down and using the British “pile method” where you stab a piece of meat or potato and then pile everything else up the fork: peas, carrots, gravy, etc. It is quite fun and also really efficient. As I chanted the psalms and prayers I began to subconsciously do so with a slight English accent. This one amused the other American who is with me as well as many of my English friends.

Then in January, Jessica came to visit and these slight changes became all the more apparent. It was a little surprising when I realized that what had begun as a curiosity quickly had become a habit. For the next few months I responded to this by consciously reasserting my “American-ness” I returned to eating with the American “scoop” method and made sure to use the word “ya’ll” as much as possible. There was something desperate in my attempt to retain my cultural and national identity.

Eventually, however, this proved to be a lot of work and also began to seem affected. My experience thus far has changed me in more significant ways than I have even begun to understand. Having experienced British culture, as I mentioned in a previous post, I have already developed a more global perspective, however, I have also become more “American.” I do not mean that I am going to buy some patriotic clothes and walk around singing “My Country Tis of Thee,” but I am also not ashamed of where I come from. The USA is not a perfect country, and I don’t believe that it is the best one in the world, but it has helped to make me who I am and it is my “home.”

So, for now, I am just enjoying the tension. Now I use my fork in whichever way seems most appropriate for the meal and still slip into accented liturgy, but my sandals are out and ready for action! That is once the snow stops falling…

Durham Cathedral in the snow.

Durham Cathedral in the snow.

Snow from Feb 23. Not exactly sandal weather...

Snow from Feb 23. Not exactly sandal weather…

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Author: subway prophet

I am a husband, father, and Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church currently appointed to Memorial UMC in Fernandina Beach, FL. I am a proud graduate of Duke Divinity School and Florida Southern College as well as member of the Wesley Study Centre and St. Johns College in Durham, UK. All posts are my own opinions at the time they are posted and I reserve the ability to change my mind and opinions as I continue to listen to the Holy Spirit and read Scripture with those around me.

One thought on “On Wearing Sandals in the Winter

  1. We will all be glad to see you come home, sandals and all, and even with a little Brit accent – we might even think it is an improvement, who knows? I am also a lover of life, which ahs something to do with me wearing the Life is Good t-shirts all the time – that is also me. i can see you wearign the sandals up there in the winter – they are a piece of home, which is also a big part of you. They do make socks for thong sandals, and i can look for some for you if that would help during the cold weather – think that is all you have over there! i had fun shopping for your Easter basket today, took some of it in with me to see the ortho doctor who ordered an MRI on my left leg for tomorrow so maybe he can make it work right again (pray for that one) – did not want to leave the chocolate in the car where it might melt (in the 60s but cold wind). Turned out it made me popular with doctor and stuff as they were eying the candy, so opened it and shared some with them which nailed me an appt tomorrow morning at 650 a.m. Your Dad will be my driver as i am claustrophobic and have to take pills to go into that awful machine – with them, i do not care. Works for me. i remember my sister had a bit of an accent too when she lived over there, and her kids had a big one as that is all they knew.

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