Today is Holy Thursday. The day I dwell on the Last Supper. The day Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Feet. I get why it was important for that time in history but in today’s world?
I don’t like people to touch my feet. I never have. For years I didn’t wear sandals or flip-flops in public. I had ugly feet, or so I thought. The bunions on both sides of both feet had convinced me to keep them hidden. Since I shuddered if someone touched my feet, I couldn’t stand to touch the feet of anyone else, either.
Four years ago this all changed, as well as my attitude. You might say, I defeated those troublesome feelings when I took over the personal care of my mom. In her late eighties then, she needed assistance for her shower. I lived close and it made sense for me to offer to do that for her. After all, how many times had she bathed me when I was an infant? So, I gave it a go. We set up a schedule – Monday and Thursday mornings.
Honestly, at first, it made me ridiculously uncomfortable. It didn’t bother me to help her in and out of the walk-in-shower, to help her towel off, to rub lotion on her back, arms, legs, etc. But her feet – I cringed each time I rubbed the lotion into her calloused, dry, feet – complete with bunions. But, I reminded myself of the many times she had to do things she found unpleasant as a mother of eleven children on a farm. And so I powered through with all the pleasantness I could muster.
The first Holy Thursday I massaged the lotion into her feet, I dwelled on the significance of the day. I had planned to attend Mass that night as our parish remembered The Last Supper when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The scripture passage came to life for me, especially: I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do. John 13:15
I placed myself in the role of my mom’s servant that day as I dwelt on this passage. Something so personal – a time when she is the most exposed and vulnerable. It had to humble her to admit she couldn’t do this on her own anymore. How would I feel if this happened to me? A motto of Saint Mother Teresa’s came to mind: Do small things with great love. I began to view it as a privilege – to take part in the most intimate part of her life.
As I rubbed lotion into her tired, worn feet, I came to the realization that this foot wash/lotion routine helped my “soul” as I softened her soles. The awkwardness disappeared as I found joy in the routine of her foot massage.
It’s Thursday – time to go see Mom. She needs a shower and a foot massage.
One final thought – How can I go into the world as a servant? How can you?
Happy Holy Thursday.