The Question of A Name.


When you search for a name for your new blog, you soon realize that you are not nearly as individual and unique as you had hoped. Every catchy title has already gone, every allusion to a poem has already been lifted. Even the photos and the formats that you have dreamed up are there by the dozen.

At first that made me wonder if there was any point in writing (blogging) at all. Has it all been said? What has one Australian white middle class woman got to say that can add to the conversation?

Why not just get out and do something useful – for instance clean the windows that are silently accusing. Or reverse the Government and Opposition Asylum Seeker Policies single handed?

Sometimes the world gets overwhelming in its nastiness and it is all too easy to slide into thinking that nothing is worth the effort, and another shorter step into thinking that what you think yourself is not worth sharing.

Well , I am committed to being part of the respectful conversation of life. I offer you my thoughts and hope that you will in turn be part of the respectful conversation too. As well as through comments, I hope that from time to time other people might like to write on this page too, to keep the mix of ideas alive and stretch our imaginations. (Of course, if you are rude you are off!)

So here the two of the titles that I was playing with:

takes off her shoes and the thing with feathers

Probably everyone already knows that the first is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Earth’s cramm’d with heaven

and every common bush afire with God

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

It reflects for me the attitude of awe at the sacred, that is symbolised in so many cultures by the act of removing the shoes. It is present when we remove our shoes at a mosque or a temple, when we put our bare feet in the sand or dust and let ourselves absorb the expanse of the horizon until it in turn expands us from the inside. Removing our shoes strips off the layer that removes us from contact with the immediacy of what is real. Shoes are important and I am grateful for their protection and support, but there is time when I need to reveal myself to myself and reconnect with where I stand in the web of life without pretence – with all my beauty and with my inadequacy.

Removing shoes also calls up the common act of weariness after the day, when you sit back and take off your shoes and rest, often with a sigh of pleasure. I love the conjunction of both meanings because that’s where I find the sacred: in the common mess of life, the laughter, work, joy, fears, love and struggle.

But the sacred is not limited to the domestic. When we lift our gaze we see an expanded vision of where the sacred is: it is when we are able to look into another’s face and see our own, it is when we feel another’s pain as our own, it is when we know that another’s right to a life of freedom and security is as valid – and as urgent- as our own.

The second title, the thing with feathers, is from Emily Dickinson :

Hope is the thing with feathers

that perches in the soul

and sings the song without the words

And never stops at all.

Is not hope the thing we all need, singing in our collective soul? If we are to sort the mess, small and large, then start the next day to sort it again, and still have laughter and love in amongst the doing of it all, we need to cling on to hope as strongly as that little bird holds on to the tree.

Sometimes the hope we need, is just that we can hold on to the knowledge that everything is part of the whole – the wonderful along with the disillusioning, the achievements along with the crashes, the movements forward along with the steps backwards ; that in the longer and wider vision, we live in a mysterious place of graced existence that is big enough to hold it all.

And I dare to call that place God.

In the end, WordPress decided for me – the title that was available is this: takes off her shoes.

And so it is.





About Pauline Small

After a long and varied career in teaching, I am now able to pursue my other love - writing as a form of exploring the depths of life's experiences. I live in South Australia, in an ordinary house in an ordinary suburban street, which is where the extraordinary happens every day.
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5 Responses to The Question of A Name.

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Pauline. I know just what you mean about titles and such. But takes off her shoes is so lovely, and says it all, all by itself. I agree, though, that in this time of political horror, especially, we need that feathered thing. Thanks.


  2. Love the title. And while I’d heard the first two lines of that poem before, I’d not heard that third line that is the blog title, and it adds a whole new dimension. So – there is already something you have said that I had not previously heard 🙂 So glad your voice has joined the blogosphere x


  3. Dianne says:

    Thank you Pauline. Beautiful thoughts on which to close down the computer after spending far too much time editing and amending Sunday’s pew sheet at others beck and call. But it is for Epiphany. My little gift and thank you for your beautiful ones.


  4. Joy Harvey says:

    What a beautifully written meditation with which to end this precious day. thank you for writing something worth reading, for giving food for thought & delicious snatches of poetry as well. I am looking forward to the next blog post you write!


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