A guy at the car rental agency, someone I hadn’t met before (and I’ve been there a lot lately), asked me at the end of our transaction how I’d rate the experience, 1 to 10. I said, always 9-10, easily. I like the service. I like the familiarity. I’d rather get a discount for being a regular, but sure.
And he seemed extraordinarily pleased with that comment. Shook my hand. I may have made his day.
So I got this humanity thing down, I guess. It comes down to compliments and driving a lot, it seems.
Tonight it begins, our week, and tomorrow this blog project will end, as all things must. Tonight is Maundy Thursday, the Lord’s Supper, when we do our feet washing. It’s strange at first, then oddly moving. There’s a dual vulnerability in bathing someone else, even if it’s just bare feet. No one feels entirely comfortable at first. It’s awkward and slow, and sometimes I think it’s going to be a bust, considering the few in attendance.
And then they come. Someone begins, others gradually slip out of their shoes and socks and join them, and soon we’re doing this very strange thing. We’re caring for each other, physically, for people we rarely touch other than to shake hands or exchange quick hugs. And who knows how to wash feet the proper way?
The whole thing is different and oh so ordinary. A couple of millennia ago, the dusty streets of Palestine would have been overflowing with animal waste and other sewage. One can bathe a dozen times a day, but eventually you’ll have to walk. It was a big deal, the washing of the feet.
And it’s a servant’s job, which is why we do it, why we’re supposed to. I don’t know how well the lesson sticks, but we make the effort. We touch someone else, sooth them with warm water and rub away the imaginary dung from walking in this modern world.
It’s institutional compassion, and it must have seemed necessary to explain the need, and the point. Only when I serve you do we become truly people who belong together, and if I’m over-explaining that, I’m comfortable.
It took me years, but I think I figured out how to do Lent the right way. Turns out it’s just not my way. I have to remember the other way, which is why we do this. Why I do.