Friday, January 10, 2014

Washing Feet: a New Year's Reflection

I've been thinking quite a bit about humility lately. This is probably because I have been diligently trying to read Scripture every day, and humility is mentioned in the Bible nearly every other chapter - sometimes sentence - it seems. So I know I must work on this humility thing, just as I must work constantly on growing more selfless, opening my heart.

A perfect example of humility was Christ himself kneeling at his disciples' feet to wash them. I don't think, before recently, that I have ever really thought about how great and astounding a thing that was. The Son of God washed the filthy feet of men...and then told them that they ought to do the same for each other.

We should ponder often the idea of God bending to wash our tired, confused, willful feet. Just that image, acknowledged humbly, would propel us to love others through greater service.

I was inspired this past Christmas, saw Jesus in my father-in-law. He reminded me of Christ, simply because he humbly assisted one of my children when I was too impatient to do so, and while he did it I was reminded of another wonderful example when someone stepped in to "wash feet" when I selfishly would not a few years earlier.

This past Christmas our family went with Grandpa, my husband's dad, to the park. Grandpa held the kids' gloves and played with them and took pictures of them and of our whole family, because my husband and I had forgotten the camera. When it was time to go, my littlest daughter wanted help with her gloves. They were tight, hard to squeeze into. I half-helped, but when she complained at my tugging, I gave it up and told her to come on, get them on herself and let's go.

That's when my father-in-law stepped in. He gently, slowly, calmly, quietly assisted our Ella with her troublesome gloves. I stopped in my retreat and watched, feeling guilty and rightly rebuked.

It made me think of that other time when the head of RE at our church, a lovely woman named Christine, practically did wash my daughter's foot.

We had gone to the park to play before RE. My daughter Ana's shoes were full of sand and sweat, and one of them slipped off her foot as I was hurrying her across the church courtyard. She hopped behind me as children will do and asked me to help her put it back on - "It's full of sand, Mama!"

"Well, just knock it out of there and let's go!" was my reply.

Christine went over to my daughter, knelt down on the ground, slowly brushed off the bottom of my daughter's sweaty, stinky foot, and then gently slid the shoe back on.

Wow. Words are priceless, but actions are powerful. I was humbled and amazed.

I wonder how I forgot her beautiful example so easily this Christmas. How I can repeatedly forget Christ's example so easily so often. If we all walked in Jesus' sandals, washing the feet of our fellow human beings with humility, how great the light in this world could be!


So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it." John 13:12-17

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