Monday, April 9, 2018


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation. Isaiah 52:7 

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  John 13:14

Lately I have been trying to find comfortable shoes to support my flat feet and reduce pressure on my knees and back.  My feet have always been complicated, and I have resented always having to sacrifice beauty in favor of support for them.  Now I try to respect their needs, as they are a vital means of support for my body; but I can never seem to find complete comfort and stability for staying upright very long.  It is a constant reminder that my feet have big jobs to do.

I like the idea that our mission is to be God's hands and feet in this world. Being God's hands is an appealing metaphor.  Hands can hold other hands, make things, give things to others, work, give soothing touch, lift things up,  protect someone or something, wave in greeting, raise in joy, dig, reach, extend in welcome, create art, communicate, and perform sacred tasks.  

For most of us, feet are a means of getting from place to place.  For some of us, feet dance.  People sometimes experience dance or yoga with bare feet, to feel grounded and rooted. My mother and several of her friends used to walk a couple of miles together every morning, and they all thought of it as the best way to start their days. Her doctor considered it her best medicine.

But it is challenging to think how our feet can do God's work.  It is intriguing to think back to times when it was customary to wash the dirt from the road off of one's feet when entering a house, particularly before eating.  We are careful to wash our hands, and we often give no thought to our feet.  The tradition of foot-washing before communion is a good reminder that how we prepare even the most remote parts of our body makes a difference.  

It was a revelation to Jesus' friends when he approached them to wash their feet, and it was confusing to them when someone considered unworthy washed Jesus' feet.  We don't focus on feet very much in worship other than remembering and celebrating these traditions.  But I think it is worthwhile to consider whether we need to think of cleaning the dust of mundane activities off of our feet when we want to change our direction to a more sacred path. 

To "walk a mile in someone's shoes" is supposed to be a good way to learn about other's lives.  To follow in someone's footsteps is to exemplify the behavior of a great role model.  When we want to make big changes, we are encouraged to take baby steps.  To put one's "best foot forward" is to make a strong start on a worthy endeavor.  When we endorse something along with many others, we are "voting" with our feet.  

Being God's feet in this world means respecting the journeys of others, and sometimes going that extra mile for others or for a good cause.  We have a history in America of people marching together in solidarity.  People refer to dedicated efforts in a journey demanding stamina as "running a marathon". Feet are symbols for action and direction, as well as grounding and dancing.  Whatever we do, our feet take us there. They lead us toward God's work, or they lead us away; they might be covered in the dust of our day, or they might be washed by the tears of someone unexpected.

Prayer: God reaching into the world through me, help me to keep my feet clean from the dust that clouds their light.  Let my feet be washed by those whose actions or words cleanse me.  Help me to walk when it hurts or I am tired, and help me to walk with those who need me.  Teach my feet to dance in joy, and to draw others into your dance. Let the steps my feet take teach me and others about you.  Help me to connect with your earth through the soles of my feet. Amen. 

Mollie Manner

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