Where Am I to Live?

foot washing artI sound like a broken record.  Times continue to be tough, especially at work.  Learning to be a genuinely plural faith community is hard.  Being honest about the ways power and survival dance with each other means facing into truths about own my humanity that I’d rather look away from.  Learning to be a very plural faith community when resources are not what they used to be and you can’t throw, save, raise, or rely on money to solve the challenges of ministry means finding resources somewhere else, some other way. It means living in a new place.

I go to bed tired these nights.  I continue to carve out the time to walk regularly but I’m having some GI problems and many nights I walk through pretty bad stomach cramps.  It is awfully tempting to turn back.  Once about 2 weeks ago, I finally gave in to the pain, called my spouseman and asked him to come get me.  My guess is, I am dealing with anxiety and I also know I need to get myself to the doctor. Part of the reason I keep walking is to sleep better at night.  But I wake up a lot, mind racing, zombies roaming and hissing along the paths of my soul during the witching hour.

Now we are back in Holy Week.  Maundy Thursday to be precise.  I can’t read the appointed passage in John without some sense of irony.  The description of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and then breaking bread with this band of friends makes me want to think that this all played out in the context of centeredness.  Surely at some level, there was a degree of mindfulness about the significance of that moment pervading the space where Jesus and his friends gathered.  Time slowed down, everyone breathed deep, deep belly breaths and like Emily, in Our Town, the men and women sharing that meal with Jesus  saw, really saw, the gift that was their life, especially their life together.

Having worked in the church for so long, I know better.   It was nothing at all like that idyllic version.  People’s minds were racing like mine does too often these days.  There were fast-moving, roiling undercurrents of resentment, the bleak sense of urgency and certainty that too much of what was being done was being done wrong and for the wrong reasons.  Fear distorted perceptions and anxiety made it hard for this small community to laugh.   For those who could see the writing on the wall, how tempting it must have been to simply walk.  Burned out and convinced that weeds had choked the living daylight out of each and every seed of grace that had been planted, I bet at least some of Jesus friends wracked their brains trying to figure out if there was anything, anything at all they could do instead of continue to follow this path.

Such a gentle, kind, subversive and confrontational act it was to ask to wash people’s feet that night.  That gesture becomes an even more brutally difficult message when it isn’t the Messiah but someone I don’t necessarily like (and I know is no Jesus) who has to wash my feet.  It is so totally counter-intutitive to claim that our hope comes in choosing to live in a place where people are pushing and pulling and jostling and struggling to have their agendas heard and respected and then having to act out kindness with each other.   Here?  This is where you want me to live?

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