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7 May 2018

We wandered across this scene last week and, as we tend to do when we're just starting out on a long hike, walked right by it. It was still there when we came back an hour and half later, so we took the hint and grabbed the shot.

Love. Nikon D200 with 35mm f2.8 Nikkor and polarizer at f11.0, 1/60 second and ISO 400, processed in Adobe Camera Raw.

Our first attempt was at f2.8, keeping just the red left shoe in focus.

Then we noticed the bare left foot in the background and closed the aperture down to f11 to get that in focus, too.

The left shoe wasn't an offering for the saint's bare left foot, we knew. It was just a lost shoe that had been found and prominently displayed safely away from the wet grass for the parents arriving in a few more minutes to pick up their children from school.

A little girl, seeing the saint's bare left foot, felt sorry for him and left him her left shoe.

And yet.

With both the red leather shoe and the bronze foot in focus, we couldn't help thinking of the image as a metaphor of love in the world. Sorely needed, an imperfect fit and yet never inappropriate.

But not really what we were looking at that afternoon.

Monks go around barefoot, after all, because they take a vow of poverty. But this one, St. Brendan the Navigator, had the genius to sail rather than walk around. So he didn't really need shoes.

And you know how children feel about shoes. They're for throwing.

This one must have landed in a bush. And a parent who had themselves no doubt been round that bend before caught sight of it and put it somewhere it would be seen if looked for.

But, you know, if the shoe fits, wear it.

So we're going to think of this image not as the lost-and-found display we came across but as a metaphor for love. A little girl, seeing the saint's bare left foot, felt sorry for him and left him her left shoe.

Sorely needed, if an imperfect fit, it was a gesture that was not inappropriate.

We didn't look up at Brendan's face, partly hidden by his cowl, but we suspect he cracked a smile.

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