12 May 2008

Trúboðaskór (Missionary shoes)

Back in 1984 when I went into the MTC, I remember thinking how cool my missionary shoes were. I thought they would last forever they seemed to be so well built. This picture shows pretty much what they looked like at the beginning of my mission. The sole was about 3/4 of an inch thick (it seemed) and looked like it could last even through an entire two-year mission in Iceland. I ended up being mostly right. They did last my whole mission and I could have worn them home. The missionaries of my day had a tradition though. Sometime in the last week or two of our time in Iceland we would take the bus down to one of the nearby rocky beaches with two pairs of shoes. We would wear our old worn out shoes to the beach and then change into the pair we would go home in once we had arrived at the beach. Then after a bit of nostalgia-filled expressions of shoe appreciation, we would tie the shoelaces together of the faithful pair and chuck them out into the ocean.

We thought doing so was an appropriate rite of passage, one that all missionaries there should go through. Maybe I would not do the same thing today, being the environmentally conscious fellow that I am now, but there was something very satisfying about sending those shoes to the cold Icelandic depths. In a way it was tangible evidence that we would soon be able to leave the cold behind and rejoin lives that were somewhat distantly remembered by that time but were dearly missed. It was also a physical act that allowed each of us to symbolically and in reality leave the pain and hardship of the past two years and start another life, one that focused a bit more on each of us as individuals after two years of the opposite. I remember the beach being very rocky that day, as most Icelandic beaches are, and the water and constant wind very cold.

I wonder where those shoes are today 22 years later....

No comments: