My favorite part of the Holy Thursday mass is the Gloria – bells and all. Last night, I was explaining what we would be using before mass last night, and when I made mention of the Gloria, someone (a young couple) questioned the fact that we would be singing a Gloria. Whoa! One the good side, somebody was paying attention to the liturgy.Â But, I had to bite my tongue not to be snippy when I responded that “Yes – we sing the Gloria tonight.” (Bells and all).
I always listen to the Holy Thursday gospel and ponder it. I wonder about the cultural setting — in this scene Jesus when Jesus wants to wash Peter’s feet, Peter says “Never!” and Jesus tells him – “But I have to.” and Peter says “well, then, not just my feet, but all of me.” Jesus tells him – “You have bathed. Only your feet need washing.”
Only your feet. You are clean already. Feet – the walking around part of you. I had a couple of images cross before my eyes:
Scene One: I am clean. Once in my life I bathed – I was baptized. But, day to day walking around gets my feet dusty… dirty, tired. Jesus tells me that He must wash my feet. He has to clean off the traveling dirt. I have to allow Him to be that close to me so that he can do that. Jesus tells Peter either I do this for you, or you can’t really be a part of this whole deal. Give up your pride.
Scene Two: Now that Jesus has washed my feet, I must in turn wash others’ feet. I must be Christ to others. I must serve them – clean up the traveling dirt. Interesting — it’s like God took care of the bathing, I do the footwashing – or the pedicure.
Scene Three: I love getting a pedicure. To have my feet cleaned, massaged, cared for, makes my whole body feel better. I think of my friend Judith who would give foot massages to folks who were working as Team for a Cursillo weekend – they were on their feet for extended periods of time and their feet hurt. Judith was there officially as a music minister… but her call to servanthood led her to take care of other folks feet. She even brought nail polish so we could paint up our toes for the Closing at the retreat. At home, she took care of her Mother’s feet. What an imitation of Christ.
I was a teenager in the late 60’s and early 70’s… last of a generation who’s world view was heavily colored by the Viet Nam war and the draft. The guys in my class were the last to face the draft lottery knowing that a low number really meant they were going.
One afternoon, I was riding in the car with my mother… a very proper, lovely woman (OK, as a teenager, maybe I didn’t see that so well); The radio is playing Crosby, Stills and Nash. The words floated through the air and Mama caught them. I still remember her thoughtful comment — “That’s good advice: If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
I’m not sure her vision of that was the same as the singers’. But she had a point and it comes to me at various times. There are those that I have a strong connection with, that I love. They live elsewhere. They may indeed love me in return. But, the fact remains that they have a life there and I have one here. So, it becomes my call to “love the one(s) I with.”
I think Jesus did just that — that he is my example. The gospels seem to indicate that he had those that he loved and cared about as any human does. Mary, Martha, Lazarus, John… and yet, in all the stories we see a man who was present in the moment. He was approached by a leper – he loved the one he was with. He felt a woman touch his hem — he stopped, and loved the one he was with. He was present for those he was with at the time.
Not always easy to do — but well worth trying to do.
This was a week where the world looked dull and grey and the glass was always half empty. I reverted to ashes – and the words from a song we often use for Ash Wednesday rolled through my head without ceasing for an entire afternoon:
…we offer you attempts
the gifts not fully given, the dreams not fully dreamt
Give our wanderings direction
Give our visions wider view
An offering of ashes, an offering to You.
I may not have the words exactly right, but that’s how these things go: the last line rolls around, and finally is joined by the one before, and eventually the verse is reconstructed from the bottom up. And sometimes it’s not really the original words.
In that half-empty mindset I looked at my dresser which reflects my life. It’s awash in the remnants of not quite finished business. Needed supplies that got as far as the dresser, but the bag remains; a couple of tags removed from a shirt, but never thrown away; Earrings taken out that never made it back to the jewelry box. It reminds me that I have a lot of work to do with respect to letting go. I make the move in a new direction, but I really have trouble with leaving the past behind. Ever. There are memories to keep, I know. There are lessons learned that need to be remembered. But, how will I ever move if I’m still dragging the baggage.
Guess I’ll go clean off that dresser top. Got to start somewhere, and I don’t have the energy to think about the kitchen!
It’s well into Lent, and I’m being struck by ashes. Ashes are grey — not navy blue, or muddy brown – Grey. Like colorless. Like I feel about so many things today. I’ve been down this rabbit hole before, and I’m not going back. So, I find that I must do whatever I can to add color back in.
I’ll walk – 3, 4, maybe 5 miles this afternoon. Maybe I’ll go on a cleaning spree in the house — vacuum and declutter. Eat properly. And I’ll reflect on Ash Wednesday and ashes… and joy of Palm Sunday, the sorrow of Holy Thursday, the seeming loss of hope of Good Friday and the joy and light and color of Easter. I’ll sink into the grey of the ashes, and the way change that I always try to follow through Lent.
I could be so poetic today about the need to die to some things in order to allow new growth. About the difficulty of the unknown and how it tests trust in God. About how things in the past haven’t always turned out like I would have wanted and the realization that I’m not even sure what I want.
Instead, I’m heading out to walk and sit with my ashes and try to hear what they tell me.
Today’s Gospel (Mark 8,22-26) tells the story of Jesus healing a blind man. He takes him outside of the town, and it takes 2 passes before the man sees clearly. Then Jesus tells him to “Go home. Don’t even go into the village.”
It seems that Jesus has had to touch my eyes more than twice — and I still don’t see clearly. Well, maybe, I see clearly for brief moments. Then, those folks around me look like trees walking again.
And then – the admonition to go home. “Home is where the heart is.” Home is that place where I am completely free and safe. Home is that room inside me where I can go and just be. It seems that the path home is prayer, which opens me up to a deeper relationship with God.
Going into “The Village” seems to reflect what we do all too often — go out and share something. Keep it at a distance. Share it around so that it doesn’t have to affect me so deeply.
Next time my eyes are touched, I’ll try to remember to go home and “be” before I actually “do” anything. And hope that I do get that second look before I run off to deal with walking trees.