John 13: 5, 34 & 35
13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
13:34 “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Reflection from Spiritual Director – Francie Thayer
Time at The Well was spent in anticipation of Maundy Thursday this week—Jesus washing disciples’ feet and then inviting them to love one another, just as he loved them.
Foot washing… such an intimate and vulnerable activity. As the one doing the washing, you are on your knees before another, head bowed over a task, vulnerable. As the one having your feet washed, you are also vulnerable, receiving a gift of service, putting part of your body into the hands of another.
And good heavens, it’s feet: likely callused, possibly cracked, toes crooked if you’ve ever broken one, potentially in-grown toenails,…You know… feet! What an intimate experience; it can feel pretty uncomfortable.
I know that contextually it was a different situation in a world where the only shoes were sandals and roads were dusty and rough. Foot washing in Jesus’ time was a complex conglomeration of hospitality expressions, of servitude, of honor and respect, of domination. There are strains of all of that in the experience of the activity to this day.
I was particularly struck by one comment from the Well Zoom quilt this week: “I continue in the practice of foot washing because it makes me uncomfortable,” and isn’t there wisdom in that. It is often when we are uncomfortable that there is space for the Spirit to move, to act, to transform us. Placing myself in situations where I am vulnerable, uncomfortable, and not in control helps me to remember that I am created for community, that I am not an island, that I am not the center of the moment. It is from that place, with that lens, that Jesus says, “you also should love one another—” with openness, with attentiveness, with a heart of service.