Sitting on a bench in my old College (Pembroke: Ridley's Walk) I take my sandals off, and on feeling the grass beneath my feet am reminded of the delightful rough grass and sandy peat on the way to Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, and remember the feeling of openness and freedom and vitality in ``closeness to nature'' that I felt there (tempered by the ever-present anticipation of being interrupted by yet more insensitive tourist visitors!). I also remember a summer or two when shoes were not worn around the office; and realize that it does make difference; it is vital (in the sense of giving vitality, not of being necessary for physical survival) to have your feet on the ground -- and yet how difficult we make it both socially(and the reasons for disapporinv of bare feet are very telling!) and in terms of what we ahve done to the founnd to make it unexciting but even dangerous to tred on! (And similar things go for the rest of our bodies!) Of course, there are perfectly good reasons for wearing shoes in particular situations -- but they are in a minority -- and the same goes for any clothing, if you're rational about it and don't suffer from concupiscence!)
But to be concrete about the sole: what does this vitality betide? Surely it must be a philospophically meaningless coincidence that the part of the body that takes our weight to the groun when we progress is also subtly sensitive? Perhaps like the meaningless coincidence that the usually sensitive eyes are at the front fo the head. Or more like the meaningless coincidence that the taste buds capable of giving much pleasure and far more subtle than needed to preotact against poisoning, are on the tongue where they are exposed to passing food? Isn't unnecessary wearing of shoes in a beautiful place rather like looking at an awe-inspiring ladnscape with your eyes shut?
And what of Yahweh's command to Moses as he approached the burning bush? ``Take off your sandals, for this is holy ground.''[Exodus 3:1-10] Was that just a matter of shoes having been on dirt (like the Japanese domestic custom) or was it something deeper than that?