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The Woman Who Got Me Going Barefoot

May 21, 2014


Today is a sad day for me. Nedra Hawkins died this afternoon. Nedra was a person I really cared for a lot just for who she was. She was someone I especially appreciated because she is the person who told me to go barefoot – and that has changed me forever.

Ten years ago I was dealing with hip bursitis something fierce. I tried insoles, I tried new shoes. I tried pain medicine.

I went to the doctor because I thought I had broken my hip. He x-rayed me and said there was nothing wrong. He gave me a cortisone shot and sent me on my way. Two weeks later, the pain was back as bad as ever… they wouldn’t give me another shot.

I was walking with a cane… my daughter was on a mission in the Caribbean in January and brought me a beautiful, carved cane that I cherish.

That’s when Nedra came along.

Nedra (right) with her daughter, Julie.

Nedra and her late husband, Glenn, operated a Health Food Store in Fort Wayne for a long time. While in that business, Nedra learned about the benefits of Reflexology. She began to practice it and had quite a large clientele.

After Nedra and Glenn moved to Timbercrest, she continued her reflexology practice with others who live at Timbercrest. I went to her a number of times.

If was on one of those visits that I was telling Nedra about the difficulty with my hips. She listened closely and attentively. After she got done with my reflexology treatment, she said to me simply (and straightforwardly):

“You should try going barefoot for a few days.”

You have to understand that I’m not a big fan of bare feet (ironic, isn’t it?). When she told me that, I sloughed it off a little but. I had all the usual prejudices people have about bare feet: they’re dirty, offensive, rude, slovenly and more than a little hillbilly-ish. It was okay for kids, but I was 45 years old (at the time) and it certainly wasn’t a fitting thing for a middle-age man to do.

But when I got home, I took my shoes off and didn’t put them on the rest of the weekend.

By Sunday, the pain was gone.

I was flabbergasted. The pain was gone. No meds, no insoles, no cane.

I began reading a lot about going barefoot and found that many people were in the same boat – they found their health and posture to have improved considerably by such a simple and harmless action as going barefoot.

By that summer, I was dedicated to going barefoot all the time – as much as I could. I did and I do.

I wear sandals or slides at work, that I can get out of easily. I wear my sandals a little at Church, but most of the time not, and the people of the Church love me in spite of it (I love them, too, by the way). Otherwise, my shoes stay in the car. I wear flip flops in stores that are ignorant enough to have a “no shoes” policy (foolishness) and I wear my sandals when I am representing my company in the community.

Honestly, I don’t understand why people wear shoes at all. In most cultures, all around the world, there is a strong heritage of going shoeless. Last week I officiated a funeral of one of our Church members. (I wear regular shoes for funerals and weddings.) It was wonderful to bless her family and to commend Marcille into God’s hands, but I couldn’t wait to get those shoes off! 🙂

I will miss Nedra a great deal. She had some significant health issues in the last few years of her life, but she never failed to be encouraging and witty. She had a deep faith and a personal peace that “passeth all understanding.” She loved to sing the old hymns and was a woman of prayer.

She and I would talk about her time “doing feet” as she called it and I often told her about how important her advice had been to me.

I will keep her family in my prayers this week as they mourn. May she rest in well-deserved peace.






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