Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday Musings

--Last night, I went to First Lutheran for our monthly meal with the homeless.  And then, several hours later, as I left my office at 8:45 at night, I heard and then saw a man who was pushing a cart through our school's parking garage.  As he walked, he shouted all sorts of profanity.  I went to the desk of the security guard and spent the rest of the evening ruminating on the experience.  For a taste of what I've been thinking, go here.

--Feeding the homeless seems like a good way to get ready for Maundy Thursday.  As with many a Holy Week experience, I kept waiting to be profoundly moved, but felt strangely emotionless.

--This morning a great, rushing wind rattled the hurricane shutters (metal awnings).  Much more suitable for Pentecost than Maundy Thursday.

--What is the best way to celebrate Maundy Thursday?  I'll end this long day at church.  I've started by eating some good homemade bread that I found stashed in the freezer.  Bread for Maundy Thursday seems appropriate; eating it by myself, not so much.

--Many churches will have a foot washing service.  I understand the reference (read John 13: 1-15 if you need a refresher).  But in these days of pedicures and protected feet, do we lose the symbolism?

--If we washed the feet of the homeless, the meaning might be restored.

--A few years ago, I thought about foot washing and non-sexual intimacy with both our bodies and the bodies of others.  I wrote a poem, "Drained," after a Maundy Thursday service. I was thinking about the woman who anoints Jesus with costly oil and I remembered (wrongly, it turns out) her wiping his feet with her hair.  I was thinking about how shocked the disciples were that Jesus should wash their feet. I was wondering what a similar act would be today: what would be both invasive and intimate. I thought about how many of my friends refuse to let people see the true state of their houses. I thought about how the state of my bathroom often embarrasses me. And voila, a poem was born.

--This poem first appeared in Chiron Review.


Jesus showed up on my doorstep, demanding
to clean my bathroom.
I refused.
I mean, it’s one thing for him to face
Crucifixion for my sake.
It’s quite another for him to see
how I really live.

His face—so sad.
He talked about searching
for feet to wash, but modern feet are so clean.
It’s no sacrifice to touch people’s feet.
In this world of pedicures
and solid shoes, a foot washing doesn’t convey
the same care it once did. That’s how he came
to develop his crazy cleaning scheme.

I offered to let him scour my oven,
but he said it wasn’t the same,
and besides, it’s self-cleaning.
He really wanted to deal
with the detritus of my life.

What can I say? Jesus is persuasive.
He organized my jumble of cosmetics and healed
my slow drains. He cleaned
my toilet with his hair.

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