Today has been a day of water. Water in the form of torrential down pour, hail, sleet, snow flurries and misty wet wind. With this water comes mud. I hate mud. I am surrounded by it. Everywhere I look it has either been tracked in, or clings to shoes, fur, coats, pants. It covers the driveway, and the yard and you can’t glance outside and not see it. Gone is the blanket of white hiding the dirt. Now is the season where you have to look at dirt. Wet, sticky, heavy, clingy, odorous….dirt.
I don’t find it a coincidence that today has overwhelmed me with water and dirt, as today is also Maundy Thursday. This day of Holy Week we celebrate the remembrance of the Last Supper. We remember the Savior’s aching plea to observe and remember. His powerful demonstration of service when he laid aside his rabbinical robes and donned the garb of the servant…a towel, and poured water into a basin and washed the dirt from off the feet of his disciples.
John 13:3-5 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Jesus, from his secure place in the Father’s love, humbled himself as a lowly servant and looked at the dirt on his disciples feet. He didn’t just stare. He didn’t point out who had the dirtiest feet, he didn’t comment on nail fungus or callouses, he poured water, and touched them, and wiped them clean.
What a lesson for ministers of SoulCare-are we washing from a place of identity that is securely fastened in the love of the Father? Do we know deeply whose we are, and where we are heading before we pick up the towel? Have we seen our Savior wash our own dirty feet, before we ever dare to look at the dirt of another? The dirt of the journey through this broken world that clings to the peace of the wounded bringing them shame, and the inability to move freely. The dirt that dries like concrete, and rips the skin off when bumped too harshly.
Jesus didn’t use a scrub brush. Jesus didn’t stare at the dirt. He saw the heart under the sandals he unlatched. He wasn’t moved by the dirt, because he himself was the living water, the walking pool of Bethesda, the wine from the water at Canaan, the baptism of Jordan, the rock of water that followed the Hebrew children in the wilderness. He is the river of life, no dirt can cling to the soul of the one who is washed by this eternal stream.
My prayer this (muddy) Thursday is this: May we remember the washing as we gaze at the mud. May we allow our souls to be reminded of our identity in the Beloved. May we lay aside any robes of entitlement and reach for the towel as we kneel before the sandals in our care.