Do you remember the last time your feet were REALLY dirty? Was it the last time you wore open toed shoes on a rainy day? Do you remember the last time you had to really scrub your callouses to make sure you got all the dirt off? Dirty feet are universal. All of us have them. And they all need to be cared for.
When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, it was because they were dirty and everyone else was put off by it. I’ll bet Jesus was put off by it too. But he knew it needed to be done – and he loved his disciples.
JUSTembrace hosts a monthly foot care clinic. We’ve held 10 in 14 months. We’ve had between 60 and 6 guests come to our clinics. We’ve had between 1 and 15 volunteers join us.
I hope JUSTembrace never stops doing foot clinics. I don’t know how to fix the volunteer problem (but I want to try). I don’t know the best place to host or the frequency with which to do them. Do we do them monthly or weekly? Do we expand into medical care or stick with the basics? I don’t have the answers. But I am convinced that what we are doing is exactly what Jesus was telling us to do.
Why do we do these clinics? Because there are folks in this neighborhood who have no one to lovingly help them with the intimate task of washing and managing their basic foot care. This neighborhood is filled with men and women with various physical and mental disabilities. They are young, old, large and small. There is a unique set of circumstances for each guest we see. What they all have in common is a need for dignifying foot care.
JUSTembrace foot care clinics are not “spiritual experiences” any more or less than plunging the toilet at your own home is or taking the garbage out or cleaning up after the dog leaves you a “present”. I think what Jesus was getting at by washing the disciples’ feet was showing us how very spiritual these mundane tasks really are. (For the record, I don’t think there’s much spiritual about sprinkling water on someone’s feet. It seems like a mockery to me.)
If you don’t want to do it, there’s a good chance you should. By doing what repulses us we aren’t sitting at the Diving Kitchen Table eating our vegetables hoping for approval in our suffering while God looks on sternly; we are, however, in a very small way renouncing our pride and begging God to make us more like Him.
So go, take out the garbage, scrub the growth in the bathtub that you’ve been waiting for someone else to do. Make that phone call to check on that person you’d rather put out of your mind. Let’s ask God to change us into people who get excited to do these menial tasks. Let’s allow Him to change our perspectives so we see dirty feet not as an opportunity to “serve the least of these” but as a chance to pitch in to do what needs to be done for humanity.
Let’s get over ourselves.