I nearly stumbled on a pile of sandals that appeared as though boys had simply walked right out of them rather than stopping to take them off. Memories flooded back of the days my children would leave the very same scene behind as they transitioned from one busy activity to the next. This pile of sandals sat outside the shower area, leading one to believe the owners of said sandals were busy showering. In mere seconds sounds of competitive play told me otherwise. As I turned toward said sound I smiled again – bare feet to play soccer, why of course! Joy doesn’t seem to touch the feeling I had as I watched this group of boys play soccer.
This brief experience gained significant meaning as I sat alone in the shade for a moment of quiet reflection. Feet. They keep appearing in my thoughts and now on my camera. As I prepared for this past trip to Haiti God seemed to be telling me to keep things simple. He kept saying, “Wash their feet”.
Have you ever had someone wash your feet? When you haven’t paid for a pedicure and have not asked for the cleansing, have you ever had someone approach you to wash your feet? I have. It is an indescribably humbling experience. I had walked in flip-flops through a muddy field (several muddy fields) to explore the possibility of assisting a family in a garden project. My mind was focused on discerning if God was asking us to be part of this possible project, and on the feasibility of ultimate sustainability. Not once did I think of this day as a sacrifice of myself. As we returned to the home my mind was reeling. Realizing that my feet were far too dirty to enter anyone’s home, I sat on a rock with my feet in the dirt. The mire of sticky, wet mud had sucked the bottoms of my flip-flops off of those toe killing connectors. It wasn’t pretty. My feet are not attractive in their best state and they were certainly nothing to look at now. My friend had been anticipating my return. Without question she approached with a pan of water, soap and a towel. As I reached to wash my feet she stopped me. My friend insisted that she do the cleansing and I rest. Permitting this act of kindness was difficult for me, it felt awkward at first. However, I relished in observing her facial expressions and the tenderness of her weathered hands as they caressed my feet, scrubbed the difficult spots and even cleaned beneath my nails! What seemed to me like a simple walk to the field was love in action for my friend. She was repaying me by serving me. She washed my feet. I have never forgotten the feeling of being loved like this.
When God seemed to be speaking to me, “Wash their feet”, many questions came to mind. Who is “their”? Was He metaphorically speaking to me to keep service simple and love in service? Was He truly asking me to cleanse someone’s feet? Or is God asking me to remain humble. Stay in that place of feeling awkward, allowing others to serve me as I also serve them?
I didn’t find a definite answer during my time in Haiti, but I did think about it with each interaction I was given. Maybe that was really what God was asking for. My prayer is that my life may continue to be a reflection of foot-washing, not only in far away places but right here at home, at work, at the grocery store, wherever my feet take me.
I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you. – John 13:14-15