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Joseph Grijalva   Period: 5



Title:  Footprints, Footprints in the Sand

Author:  Mary Stevenson, Margaret Fishback Powers, Carolyn Carty

Source:  Board on my Bedroom Wall


            The poem Footprints (aka. Footprint 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.  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, 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 the need 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 out