05 April 2010

Washing Feet

I first experienced foot washing in St. James. Maundy is an uncommon word, not often used in the church; it's unused in culture so it stands out. A cultural remnant and commemoration of what?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Jesus said this to the Apostles after He’d washed their feet before their Last Supper.

The foot washing ceremony commemorates Jesus new mandate. It’s servant leadership; Jesus washes his disciples' feet; the master, the rabbonni, washes his students' feet, they who sense the role should be reversed.

As a ceremony in the Passion Week the priest and deacon wash each other’s feet then turn to show how to wash the feet of those in the congregation first in line. There's ususally some awkwardness. Each person seated, whose feet are washed, then rises, to then turn, beckon the next person, who sits, the risen to then kneel to wash the seated person’s feet. And then so on, seriatim, one is washed, then rises, to turn, to wash the next who is seated, through all choosing to participate. At the end of service the altar is stripped of the outer trapping and comeliness that suggest life so then to suggest death, internment, and mourning.

I have been in this foot washing. The first time I pushed myself to go on. “Ooooh,” feeling a revulsion, as if denuded or unmasked. I don’t know ‘bout you, but I feel my feet are nasty, stinky, mishappen, and poor, even though I take care of them.

Who knowingly chooses to take off shoes and socks, in church, at the end of a day, to expose and have feet washed by a person, who might well be a stranger, or a friend, who one encounters often in situations one feels or senses are intimate relative to other human relations in our culture?

The first time I had pushed myself. I discovered I was gently and humbly transformed; no "Ooooh" 'bout it.

I concindently faced serving my ailing 86-year-old Mother that year. I was afraid for her as she prepared for a total left knee replacement. I did not choose to serve her; I felt it a duty. I was nearest, I was most able, I was available, I was standing in for my siblings, and my Mother was facing a surgery alone of which I knew the effects from a similar knee surgery of mine. I had to serve. I was afraid of serving her. I was afraid of seeing a weakened, enfeebled, Mother.

“Bill,” Mother called.

Yes, I answered.

“Come here.” She was in her bathroom.

Yes, I’m coming. The door was pulled to; I opened it.

My naked Mother sat on her toilet, legs moving and spread, struggling astraddle for balance and simultaneously out of balance, in awkwardness, in pain. Skin pale and yellow in shadowless bathroom neon light, straggly whitish hair, tired eyes pained eyes sad eyes, and arms and hands holding her atop the seat.

I saw her removed breast scar, the empty other hanging. I stared.

“Please help me up.”

I saw her knee's misalignment, askew; tectonic plates laterally shifted from their birth alignment; it seemed as if her tibia might slip up into her thigh's skin, next to her femur, for only their end bits were touching.

I knelt at her feet. She put her hands and arms 'round my neck. I put my gripped her waist. We lifted her up.

03 April 2010


Spice is a lady, and was so on our transport.

Tessa, in the wagon first, was possessive of a bone she had and was unwelcoming to Spice. The v-tek and I, somehow, managed to put Spice in the crate, Tessa makin’ a growlin’ rowdy fuss 'bout the bone all the while; shout out to CM for the crate; coulda' been a little come to jesus meetin' right off. Spice seemed to harrumph, good lord another loud mouth, turned her back, lay right down, and all was well, with minimal shoutin' from the ladys' chauffeur.

Tessa just gnashed on that bone. After a time, I got tired of hearing her workin' that bone. I took it away, no fuss, thank god for the quiet; gives a meaning to biblical gnashing by teeth. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph it was loud. After that Tessa warmed up, she lay down, rolled over, and wanted to play. Spice sniffed the air and listened to T's importuning. Spice gave Tessa her back.

So later I stopped for all types of relief. I walked Tess first double leashed. I gave Spice a longer walk 'round the brand new TN Welcome Center on I-26 east. Hardly anyone there but a few big-rigs. She was quite comfy to me with the leash looped round her neck; no collar and she reassured me right away just walkin' with me.

Spice just stole my heart. She stayed close, happy to be out and about. The tips of her ears bounced up and down as she walked, pranced, on her paws; I could hear her nails click the concrete. She seemed to push out her front legs, as a football majorette might of a 1/2-time marching band, rather than lift them up. She was all show and very happy to be walkin' ‘bout. A big rig was slowly pullin' out; the driver waived at her. I knew it wasn't for me 'cause no one was ever cheerin' for the ass. A scene-stealer that Spice, a confident happy dog.

Thanks for the gig, very nice.

02 April 2010

Random 4

There musta been a gazillion hats hanging from its' ceiling rafters; all types. It was called The Mad Hatter. I have no clue how they got there. All sorts of people hung out there. It did not wear its class on its sleeve; it hung it from its ceiling.

This in contrast to
The Raveled Sleeve, which catered to prepped-out southerners in entry-level Wall Street banks and investment houses. This place was pretentiously proud, filled with one-a-kind-only, take the suit jacket off, loosen the collar and rep tie, ravel-up the sleeves, and let's knock some back, kind of place.

For me the Hatter was a watering hole for singles on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I lived three blocks from it. A friend, a Price
Waterhouse accountant, lived 2 blocks from it. Gary, an NYU MBA grad, was from French Lick, IN. We, and another guy, used to meet there, drink beer, and try to meet women. We were pathetic, I was pathetic, and, well, clueless.

I was clueless and poor as a church mouse. I didn't own a TV. I didn't want a TV either. In summertime I used to go to the Hatter to watch baseball, have a beer, and feel like I was part of a larger group. There were always people in the Hatter. I was a tall borderline skinny dark-haired guy trying to figure out who he was.

So this mid-June night the Yankees were hosting the Red
Sox. I went to the Hatter to watch the game. I'm drinking nothing. Next thing I know a woman, no, a girl, is asking me the score; then she's sipping white wine I'm buying for her. And we are talking. She's actually interested in me, so it seems to me, quite genuine, which I like, interested in what I do, in what I say and think, in what I offer about baseball. After awhile she says, time to go, her friends want to leave, I ask for her phone number, if I may call her? She says "Yes," writes it on a napkin. I go back to baseball.

A time later we marry; at a time much later we divorce. Three decades later, now maybe not so clueless, I figure she may have picked me up on a dare, by or with, her two friends who were keeping eyes on her, and maybe on me too.