Thursday, April 5, 2012

He is washing our feet, letter twenty-three, hilary to preston

On Tuesdays and Thursdays around these parts, Preston and I write letters back and forth. We share the wonder of mystery, grace and our encounters with mercy. We hope to see you in the comments. Read the letter I'm responding to here.

Dear Preston,

I write this to you at 5:20 in the morning, sitting in Terminal A of Logan Airport. I'm on my way to visit my mentor, who I've written about before, who's down near Jackson, Mississippi. It's a strange quiet grace to be sitting here, listening to The Low Anthem through my headphones and the rambling guitarist sitting twelve feet away. And I'm rereading your letter, thinking about the gap between what we think we know of this world, and what it is, what it must be. I think we forget the grace of imagination, because we put so much implicit trust in what we think, what we reason out from observation, what we deduce from the narrow avenues of our senses and data collection.

But imagination is grace to us, too, because my heart is unknowable to you, and yours to me, and yet through these words, we know each other. Imagination is what helps me see the woman next to me scrolling through spreadsheets, or the woman on the other side reading with her lips pursed, and realize they are whole, many-dimensioned and miraculous. Imagination, when it has its rightful place, teaches us to keep our hearts open to learning, because there is never a moment when the Truth ceases to surprise us.

The liturgy is the work of the people - imaginations as well as hearts as well as minds. The liturgy holds us wondering at this mystery. The liturgy reminds us that what we know is so small and dusty. You're right - we'll never have enough evidence, enough observation, to escape that shuddering, breathtaking moment of imagination and trust. This, this, Lord. This I believe.

And today is Maundy Thursday, and I realize all over again that it is this I believe: The God of the universe washed the feet of his disciples. The One who made us gets on His knees, pours water, scrubs off dirt. He didn't wait until we were worthy of that kind of love. He gets on his knees knowing where He is going. He gets on his knees already the offering. Preston - He got on his knees to wash our feet. 

Imagination is a grace to us, because I can't get my fingers around that kind of love. I know the love that is quid pro quo. I know the love that holds hands walking down the street. I know the love that listens close and patient, the love that repeats truth in dark moments. I can even get my mind around the love that trusts a separation and a departure is not the end.

But He got on his knees before the disciples and washed their feet. He loves with that kind of love. He loves with the aching humility and patience. I do not know what this is. But I know in the space between my heart that says Lord, I believe you and my mind that puzzles, He fills with grace.

Today, may you hear again how He cherishes you. May you remember that He is washing our feet. May your heart be filled with the grace to wonder at His love.


1 comment:

  1. "There is never a moment when the Truth ceases to surprise"... yes, and may this always be so.
    This hits me solidly, that He got on His knees to clean my feet - feet! And my gut sinks, because my reaction is like Peter's - no! no, Lord! You can't wash my feet! How about my hands? But my feet... no.
    I don't understand this love. I can't even imagine it. I find in myself such wells of doubt and literality. But I imagine more than I did before, and trust that His grace will wash my feet anyway, and fill those wells with Himself.


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