I have to admit I never understood Maundy Thursday…the whole bit about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet, and then them washing each others’, as well as some churches replicating the practice in this modern age. I just never got it…until last year.
When Megan spent months terribly ill in the hospital last year, the toll the disease and its treatment took on her body was horrendous. She had tubes everywhere (an even dozen, the most of all of the kids in oncology), couldn’t eat by mouth for weeks, and was too ill to leave the bed. She lost 30 pounds in just a few weeks. It’s excruciating as a parent to sit by your child’s hospital bed and helplessly watch it all happen. You begin to look for anything…anything…that can provide your child some relief. I’m not sure whether it was the chemo or the dry hospital air or the lack of showering, but eventually her skin, especially on her feet, became very dry. A nurse told me that soaking them in warm water before applying lotion would help. Several times during her stay, I carefully filled the plastic tub with the right temperature of water, and soaked and gently washed her feet. I then massaged lotion onto them and applied one of the bright polishes sent by friends. She seemed to be momentarily at peace as I worked.
The tenderness of that act had a powerful impact on me. As I sat by her bed, I was immediately overwhelmed with love for this special person God had entrusted me with, as well as profound grief for what she was enduring. I suddenly understood Maundy Thursday. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel that same feeling again, but it was a powerful reminder that we are called to love and to serve one another. If I continue looking for opportunities to serve others, I guess I just might experience it again.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” –John 13:14