Oh No…Not That…

Nouwen says today:

“O, Lord, you kneel before me;  you hold my naked feet in your hands, and you look up at me and smile.  Within me I feel the protest arising, ‘No, Lord, you shall never wash my feet.’  It is as if I were resisting the love you offer me.  I want to say, ‘You don’t really know me, my dark feelings, my pride, my lust, my greed.  I may speak the right words, but my heart is so far from you.  No, I am not good enough to belong to you.  You must have someone else in mind, not me.'”

Even before I hit the second sentence of this reflection, I thought  it:  Oh No…Not Foot Washing!  Aieee!  [Where’s the exit?]

I participated in a couple of foot washing services during my time in seminary.  I was uncomfortable with both.  There IS something that is just too…intimate…about someone not just looking at, but washing your feet. 

I think of people we have loved, who have loved us for a time.  People with whom we were once this vulnerable.  When that love breaks, it is so painfully difficult to completely go there again.  With anyone.

Of course Nouwen’s writing goes on to explain that Jesus coaxes the one whose feet he is washing with words of love, explaining that it is part of becoming one with Jesus…this allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

It concludes with the reminder that in receiving this depth of love, we are better prepared to go into the world and love others…as Jesus loves us.

I suppose.  And yet.  Once vulnerable and hurt is an experience that brings with it a mighty wall around our hearts.

And feet.

Ah.  Maybe that’s it.  If my feet are to carry me into the world, they need to be well cared for.  A manicure I can’t quite manage alone.

Divine polish please.



  1. In YAY, MARIE! mode: Good job on fixing the duplicate posts so quickly! The whole Footwashing thing is worthy of a long RealTime conversation. I think that it’s transformational, in and of itself, because of the initial discomfort. So intimate, so humbling, it’s a powerful personal affirmation of Service.


  2. I don’t think that was a voice of dissent at all, Dave. Your points are all valid and Service, like many things, depends on context and intent. Here in Florida, where closed shoes are optional, feet can be filthy and many old people can not even reach them! One of the greatest acts of life-changing surrender I’ve known was when a fastidious and very squeamish CEO, while sitting with a friend in treatment at a dialysis clinic, was spurred to wash the feet of aged indigents who were hurting. Great idea about the commitment to spend time in nursing homes!


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