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Joseph Grijalva   Period: 5

10/21/04

Title:  Footprints, Footprints in the Sand

Author:  Mary Stevenson, Margaret Fishback Powers, Carolyn Carty

Source:  Board on my Bedroom Wall

          The poem “Footprints”(aka “Footprints in the Sand”), has a very interesting history.  It has appeared on posters, greeting cards, and in various other forms since the 1940’s but has always been credited to an unknown or anonymous author or to no author at all.  Presently, Mary Stevenson, Margaret Fishback Powers, and Carolyn Carty have all claimed to be the author.  Mary Stevenson had the oldest handwritten version of the poem originating in 1939.  Stevenson’s version is the most convincing and was validated by a forensic scientist in 1997 as being 40 to 60 years old and written in lead pencil.  Pencils manufactured after 1945 contained graphite rather than lead.  No matter whom the author was, the poem remains inspirational to all.

          The author of this poem had lived a slightly traumatic life.  In her late teens she become involved in an abusive marriage and was forced to run from home in order to find safety.  This writing of this poem might have been a way for the author to validate the belief that God was helping her through the bad times.  Most people experience some time in their life when they feel completely alone and abandoned.  In these times it is easy to loose hope and faith.  The poem is meant to point out to the reader that God is there to aid us, even when it seems like all is lost.  We just need to be open to His presence. 

          This poem also has meaning for the non-religious.  One could easily imagine a friend as being the one to carry you in the bad times rather that God.  After all the best friends will stick with a person and help them out in the good and bad times.  In some ways this poem could be considered to be the one “carrying a person” when they fall.  If a person was ready to commit suicide and having read this poem changed his or her mind then, the poem would be responsible for helping the person back onto his or her feet. 

          The poem also speaks out for the importance of unconditional love.  In Footprints the man walking with God accuses Him of leaving him during the time of despair and hopelessness in his life.  One might wonder how it is that someone could make this accusation especially if we were actually walking with the Lord.  The answer is that God never really asks for anything in return for his assistance.  Instead He simply picks us up and continues walking until we are strong enough to carry on again.  He does this in such a way that we might not even know that He is there. 

          I really enjoy this poem.  I have never been in a situation where I have completely lost hope or felt like killing myself, but this poem is inspirational for me in less dramatic situations as well.  It reminds me that it is never worth loosing hope, because God will be there to help me.  The poem also reminds me of my duty to help others when they are in need.  It is only fair to help people out in their time of need when you have been helped many times before.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.


Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.


When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.


He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.


He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.


This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:


" LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:


" My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

written by Mary Stevenson