About two weeks ago I had been invited, along with another gal in my church, to be a part of the sermon that our Minister of Music was going to preach yesterday. He is an ordained clergy person himself, and we are fortunate to have him. He had invited us to share something out of our experiences of showing care; he later shifted my theme to vulnerability and proposed I share about the time I participated in foot washing. It was – is – a blessed coincidence that he proposed this for me at this time. But more about that later. What follows is the short offering that I shared yesterday morning:
Henri Nouwen, the great theological thinker of our time, also had something to say about being vulnerable with one another. He wrote “Life is precious. Not because it is unchangeable, like a diamond, but because it is vulnerable, like a little bird. To love life means to love its vulnerability, asking for care, attention, guidance, and support.” And to that we might add giving care, attention, guidance and support.
Some years ago when Chad was the Seminarian here at the church he offered a study series on foot washing. Who would want to bare his or her feet? Clearly not many. For whatever reason (okay, it must have been God’s heavy-handed push) I signed up. I came to the meetings where we learned about the history and use of foot washing in Jesus’ time and through the years, and in the final session, dared to remove my shoes and socks, move into the altar area of the sanctuary and participate in the rite. I both washed and was washed. This was not an easy thing for me to do – I, perhaps like you, did not do vulnerable well.
But this is the interesting thing. Once I was ready, willing to open myself up to this intimate sharing experience, God was willing to move into me in new ways. Sitting there, my feet dried, I did not want to move. I wanted to savour the moment. I did not want to move out of that time, that space, that connection, that intimacy.
When Chad invited me to participate this morning and proposed that I talk about my experience with foot washing I wrote him back saying “I can do this because owning up to our vulnerability is a theme that permeates my life...I dare say, as it should.” Why is that? Because in being vulnerable, entering into the room of someone you love who is dying, praying with someone for the first or third time, daring to risk to do something that is unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone does in the end, open some new place within you. I know it has for me! And you will find that it is God who moves into that place – and stays. The lessons of being vulnerable are endless; each day there is a chance to risk. When we can dare to open ourselves, bare our souls (s-o-u-l-s) or soles (s-o-l-e-s), we learn in new ways that we are not the be-all and end-all. The good news is that we do learn, and come to know, the one true be-all and end-all – our loving, giving, forgiving and ever-blessing God.
I indicated earlier that the timing was good for me. Later this month I will have surgery which will keep me in the hospital 5-6 days. It is not serious as it is “elective” surgery! Doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron? Who would choose to have surgery!! That is not the point. The point is that the thought of being hospitalized touches on my vulnerability. But, here I reminded myself of the good that comes of allowing myself to actually BE vulnerable. I am feeling better, a bit less threatened, and grateful for the reminder. Life is not unchangeable, like a diamond; and life is not all about me. We experience the soft side of life when we allow others entry into the most protected parts of ourselves, permitting them to care for, guide, and support us.
[I added two poems to the poetry page today.]