About three months ago I shared with my spiritual director that I was writing a blog, or well, a journal of sorts. I shared with my director that I wanted to record my journey. I used to write in traditional paper journals and I got tired of the standard format of pen and paper (I make a lot of mistakes so, the pages are full of strikethroughs). Thus began an online journal that I figure no one is looking at anyway so, I can just have fun and let loose. Of course not with the intention of becoming a drunken, sporadic explosion of emotions kind of journal but, using an exploratory and experimental method. My spiritual director suggested an idea of using one word and then reflecting on that one word. That sounded good to me so, here we are in June and I did not come up with a word until this paragraph.
The Eastertide season came and went with online services and Zoom presentations. I viewed churches from a few different areas including my hometown church. There was one service that stood out to me because of the homily. It was a simple service of Morning Prayer that was held on the morning of Good Friday. Within the short sermon, the priest spoke of washing feet and what it meant that Jesus washed the feet of the disciples and, he said, “Jesus also washed the feet of Judas.”
Washing the feet of the enemy struck a nerve. I would not seek out my enemy. If anything, I would avoid my enemy. In many cases, I would discern that as a wise choice or decision. The machinations of people do not require for one to seek out the enemy. The intrigues will bring the enemy to the table.
“You never walk alone. Even the devil is the lord of flies.”
― Gilles Deleuze
As I reflect on this word, wash, for this moment in time, I can get a sense of other words predicating its further usage. Wash hatred, wash injustice, wash bullying, wash anger, wash jealously, wash fear, wash anxiety, wash envy, wash greed, wash violence, wash ignorance, wash stupidity, wash arrogance …. wash sin.
So, I return to the washing of feet and what the act of the washing of feet symbolizes. Servitude and cleanliness. The cleanliness is not literal, of course. There was one who ate at the table with Jesus, had his feet washed and did not walk away clean. As a matter of fact, he walked away more dirty than when he had arrived. Is this what happens to our enemies? Is this what happens when we demonstrate love instead of hate? I am not moralizing. I am really pondering.
Truly, love does have the upper hand even if it seems hard to do. Practice makes perfect. I still have some practicing to do as do my enemies.
The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.Lucretius
I am currently reading, Thomas Merton’s, “The Seven Storey Mountain.” I am almost done. I should finish before the end of this week. It has taken me awhile to focus on this book. I think I needed some time in isolation and stillness in order to fully engage in this book. Merton is an excellent writer but, notes are usually a good idea in order to keep in memory all that is being presented and with Merton, there are a lot of notes.
…there is no positive power in sin, only negation, only annihilation: and perhaps that is why it is so destructive, it is a nothingness, and where it is, there is nothing left – a blank, a moral vacuum (p 128).”Merton, Thomas. Seven Storey Mountain, the: Thomas Merton. Harcourt-Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
Sin is the moment of separation from God or the turning away from God. Sin has been defined by people in all kinds of forms. I most certainly don’t agree with all the rules and I have lost some Christian friends because I don’t carry certain Fundamentalist ideals and theologies. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t have sex, don’t use profanity, don’t listen to secular music, don’t hang out with heathens or gay people or anyone who sins, don’t slouch, don’t be late, don’t breathe … then you’ll be ok. Not that going wild and becoming an anarchist is the answer either. Don’t get me wrong. There is much in this world that could use a good wash. I think the word, sin, might be my next reflection.
I will end with a bit more from Merton. This is just too good not to cite.
People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can produce men and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us (p 128)?”Merton, Thomas. Seven Storey Mountain, the: Thomas Merton. Harcourt-Brace Jovanovich, 1978.