What e’er the soul has felt or suffered long,
Oh, heart! this one thing should not be forgot:
Christ washed the feet of Judas.
~George Marion McClellan
from “The Feet of Judas” in The Book of American Negro Poetry 1922
As an aide in a rest home caring for the crippled feet of the elderly,
as a medical student in an inner city hospital seeing the homeless whose socks had to be peeled off carefully to avoid pulling off gangrenous toes, as a doctor working with the down and out detox patients from the streets who had no access to soap and water for weeks,
I’ve washed feet as part of my job.
People always protest, just as Peter did when Jesus started to wash his feet.
We never believe our feet,
those homely gnarled bunioned claw-toed calloused parts of us,
deserve that attention.
We are ashamed to have someone care about them, care for them, when we don’t care enough on our own.
I have never washed the feet of someone about to betray me, leading me to my death.
I have never had my feet washed by someone who understood my heart needed cleansing even more than my feet, who loved me that much.
This one thing should not be forgot:
Kneeling, He wears the humility and towels of a servant as His only raiments. He gently cups our heels in His palms, washes and dries our soles and arches and toes, but our hearts are held, still beating, in His loving hands.