I’ve lived in California since I was seven years old, so those who know me probably don’t realize that I come from pioneer stock. Before they were married, my grandparents, Lloyd and Louise Taggart, were sent as children along with their families to settle the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming. But well before them, my grandfather’s grandfather, George Washington Taggart, crossed the plains along with many other Mormons in the mid-1800s. Some rode, but most walked on those journeys, in the process wearing holes into their simple shoes.
Holey shoes. Holy shoes.
I mention this because in a couple of weeks I’m taking my own children—the 6th generation—to their Wyoming homeland for the first time. We’ll travel up through South Pass, driving east along the path trod by our ancestors as they journeyed west. We’ll stop along the way at Rocky Ridge, where so many died in the blizzards of 1856. Men . . . women . . . children . . . giving their souls as the ultimate act of faith.
First their soles. Then their souls.
When I lead my family up onto that ridge, it may seem fitting for me to take off my own shoes as a tribute to those who wore so little on their feet when they traversed that path so long ago. Besides, it’s always appropriate to remove your shoes when walking on sacred ground.