As Dante the Little Man and I take our daily walks through New York City, typically in Washington Heights and the Bronx, every once in a while we come across the Sign of Hermes: a pair of shoes (or construction boots, go-go heels, football cleats, etc.) tied together and dangling from a light pole or telephone wire or tree limb. Hermes, you recall, was the ancient Greek messenger god known for his winged sandals. He was the patron of dreams and divination, transitions and journeys; he was also a bringer of fire, not unlike Prometheus.
People give their sneakers a toss for a variety of reasons, but most often they do it to commemorate some sort of passage. It might be a graduation, moving on from an unhelpful relationship, bringing a child into the world, an important sports victory. Many people also make the Sign of Hermes to mark a moment of spiritual significance, like a bat mitzvah, conversion of life, some flash of insight, or commitment to a path that will forever change the course of life.
Whether we realize it or not, we all stand at a threshold, a place of passage from the world we once knew to a new reality that we do not yet understand. However, there is no need to feel small or weak or inadequate, as no one crosses this threshold alone. We make this passage together, as a family.
If, at times, we experience fear or hesitation, let us not worry, for together we have strength, wisdom, and courage sufficient to face whatever may arise. Together we will make the journey from darkness to light. Together we will pass from death to life.
December 11, 2016