Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feet Washing

Bodily Functions. Mostly they're private. My good friend’s Great Aunt Martha, when hand-bathing herself, used to jokingly say, "I'm going to wash as far as possible.....and then I'm going to wash possible." Allowing others see our "possibles"---naked!-- makes us vulnerable and a little embarrassed. OK, a lot embarrassed.
I know that some of you reading this have been care-givers to aged parents, to sick spouses, to dying brothers or sisters. You have bathed naked parts, cleaned bare bottoms, and helped your beloveds up and off the potty--often carrying them across bathroom floors in your arms. It was humbling for you....for them. This bond is also inexplicably sacred and holy. It's extreme care. No doubt about it.
Every single day of Taylor's life, I bathe him, brush his teeth, help him shave, clean his bottom, and help with zippers and buttons on pants and shirts. In short, all bodily functions ebb and flow between us in the span of a day. I want to remind you that Taylor is a 25 year old man-child. (Just thought I'd refresh your visualization in case you were missing something here.) To an outsider, this care-taking must look like just awful drudgery. Some Friday nights it does seem like real work. I'd probably like to be dancing to Lady Gaga--whoever she is. Frankly, many days I'd just rather be shopping at Macy's. But somewhat miraculously, caring for Taylor in such an intimate manner is a bit like how I sort of think of "feet washing" in the Bible. The feet washing ritual is meant to be an act of love, is it not? It's an act of utter humility. Isn't it sort of the bottom line as to how we should love one another?
It has not been lost on me that, for most of us, the people we rely on to be our feet washers often do not even speak our language. Most likely they are from a country far away and one with whom we have been at war. Yet, we trust these feet washers to hold our feet, cleanse our feet and make them better. They rid us of all our crud. I ask you, is this act of service a sacrament? Where is the start and stop button in our daily lives that informs us, “ Now, listen here, self: This here is a holy moment, but that other five minutes was a waste of time.” What about the "Kim-Li Huong"s who wash our feet? Are they important in the plot of our lives? I’m just throwing this out here: what if every single encounter we have with another is actually sacred? Would that push us to re-think how we may want to revamp the way we might live our next 24 hours?
Don't get me wrong, if I had my druthers, I would have been just as happy with a son who could totally care for himself. But, that was not in the plan this go-round. I have always loved "foot washing" best among all rituals. I guess I'm lucky that way. I get to practice similar extreme care every single day. Wanna join me? "You also should wash one another's feet." I know I’ve read that somewhere before.