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Contemplation of feet

feetYes I have been absent for some time. The truth is, I discovered facebook and have allowed its trivialities to consume any spare time I have had for the computer. That said, onward to my thoughts for today:

There is an absolutely magnificient sunrise outside my window this morning. The sky is lashed with bright swatches of orangey-pink interspersed with a surreal aqua blue. Vivid colors illuminate the stark winter trees of my back yard, giving them a sense of the mystical, of the divine.

I, my head filled with a cottony substance that is somehow sticky, and with a nose that is decidedly more leaky faucet than proper nose, sit snugly wrapped in a blanket admiring this view. I am content. I am warm, I have tissues at the ready, and I am sipping my favorite morning beverage: dark coffee with fat-free organic milk (okay, it would be more favoriter if the milk had a wee bit of fat, but it is quite lovely nonetheless). I am safe. My roof is sound, my clothes are clean, and my cabinets are full. I do not worry where my next cup of coffee, or next meal will come from. I do not worry that I will be hurt or shooed from my comfortable seat.  I am very very blessed.

Yesterday, with a group of my nursing students, I had the privilege of working with individuals without the aforementioned luxuries. Now yesterday morning at this same time, I just felt sick and yucky. I felt a mite frustrated with whoever had the big idea that I would spend the whole day volunteering (oh yeah, that was me), and I wracked my brain for a good enough excuse to get out of going. Truly, I felt horrible, and emotionally I was still ‘recovering’ from the onslaught of family the weeks prior to and during the week of Thanksgiving (mind you, I love my family very much, but having company all the time wears me out a bit). Since no excuse cogitated sounded adequate, off I trudged, carrying my martyr self high on my shoulder. “*sigh*, look at me, quite sick and still volunteering…poor girl” – (oh gimme a break).

What does this have to do with feet? There is little that is more humbling than the washing of feet, except perhaps being vulnerable enough to allow someone else to wash your feet. Humbled is a good way to describe what my students and I did yesterday. We washed, buffed, clipped and scrubbed the feet and toenails of homeless persons. In doing so, I met some of the most beautiful people yesterday, people whom I normally would not spare a second glance for, except maybe to make sure that my purse was close by my side. Oh, it does pain me to say it, but it is true, I have judged and looked down upon those less fortunate than I. But yesterday I let all those judgments fall away, and it felt as though I was connected with each and every person in that auditorium yesterday, volunteer and homeless alike. Project Homeless Connect – where the homeless were connected with various services. In that space yesterday, it seemed we were all just people loving people. Every one had a smile and a kind word for one another. Every one was important, every one was loved and worth loving.

One beautiful man in particular lit up my day when he giggled and giggled like a little boy when I scrubbed his feet. Oh he was beautiful, his skin shone with a radiance that belied what we usually think of beauty. I swear I saw God looking at me through his eyes. Another gentleman, quite handsome when you looked through the havoc street life had wrought on his countenance and dentition, told me of his love of chess and his desire to go back to school (he was applying to several local colleges). He also shared his fear that his “mile long” rap sheet would hold him back as it had so often in the past. I tried to encourage him, talked about my educational experience…but how could that compare to the obstacles he must face – going to school while homeless. When I joked how “slow” I was in cutting his toenails (which were quite long), he said “darlin, don’t hurry, it feels good to be where I am right now”. Sigh.

There was also the woman, tears running down her face, who praised God because she said she felt so very blessed, she who, in my estimation, had nothing. She also praised us, said that we were blessings from God, and the tears poured like rain.

It is true what they say about service – that you get more than you could ever give. The people above, and the close to 170+ others served by the foot clinic that day thought that we were the ones giving to them. I wish I could convey to them how mistaken was that assumption; the true gift of yesterday was from them to me and is held in my heart: the ability to see people and love people, just because they are people. To tear away all the societal trappings of judgment that keeps us separate and discover that what is left is so beautiful and pure.

This post is also for me. To help me remember that. And now, as usual, I am running late to work.

Oh, and also, the volunteer student nurses from Motlow State Community College absolutely rock! If you haven’t been in nursing school, you cannot begin to imagine the intensity of the experience. The nursing student has very very little time to her/himself, as every moment is crammed full of things to do, things to learn, things to KNOW! Seventeen amazing students gave up some of their precious little free time yesterday to participate in this event AND they all drove upwards of 2 hours to get there! What an inspiration they are to me.


2 Responses

  1. Ms. B,
    I am unsure of what to say, displays of emotion do not come easy for me and yet I am sitting here with tears running down my face. After the first gentleman, who reminded me so very much of my brother, I was shaking in the knees when I stood up. The patrons all became someone I knew. I could see my friends and family in every person who sat across from me. Looking them in the eyes and talking to them gave me so much. You nailed it when you said they gave us the gifts. Thank you for being there.

  2. Jenia – thank YOU for being there. What a gift you received! – the ability to see through the layers of judgment and to offer such love, such unconditional postive regard for our fellow humans! We didn’t need to know where they had been and what they had done, and the same was true for them of us. Yet we shared a connection that was priceless. I don’t know about you, but I hope to carry the memory of what that felt like throughout my nursing career and let it impact every future interaction.
    Mrs. B 🙂

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