On my birthday I wash the feet of some of my dearest friends. It’s Palm Sunday, and we have small group, and my husband is worried it won’t be special enough—that my day will pass by unnoticed.
But I know.
“Tell me why we have to wash their feet again?” He wants to know.
And I want to tell him about the time we washed the feet of the children during Wednesday church. How it stilled even the most restless, how it felt to rub those grimy toes. He’s worried it will make them uncomfortable—he tells me he’s uncomfortable. And why—on my birthday—do I have to wash the feet of others? And I love him for asking, for always thinking of me.
But I know he doesn’t understand. Because the washing is the easy part.
“Because we’re the leaders,” I say, and I leave it there—praying.
In church that morning, we waved our palms and the pastor spoke about the crowd that was there—the people who witnessed the crucifixion.
“Mary was there. And John,” she said. “And don’t you know that Martha and Lazarus and their Mary were there too? Could they stay away? Just imagine,” she said. “The faces of those who loved him.”
She wondered aloud about the people he had healed. Was blind Bartimaeus there? The lepers? I wondered too. I wondered about their discomfort—their pain.
“And soon,” she said. “Soon the threatening voices would drown out the voices of love.”
During prayer time the congregation had sung Happy Birthday to me—to me. And I sit in the pew and wonder how voices so full of love could turn so quickly. I wave my palm and think how this happens to all of us—the threatening voices drown out the voices of love.
At some point, at some place in life we will all feel the discomfort. Accusations, disagreement, anger.
Can I reach through discomfort and serve in love? Will I?
At small group they bring me a cake, and flowers, and Jennifer gives me a beautiful card she made because of something I said in Sunday school. And I bend and pour water over their feet and he dries them with a towel. Luke is crying because he’s hungry and the rest of the kids are having an Easter egg hunt upstairs.
It’s a logistical nightmare—this washing of feet—with babies and dogs and furniture crowding us. But these voices of love have braved the discomfort. As I dip my hands in warm water, rub them over chapped heels and toes…I know these feet will stand firm through any pain for me.