Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Berakah

He twisted the folded towel into a small firm knot.  The water puckered in warm salty ripples around his fingers.  He parted the waters and resurrected a sopping grey clothe.  He pulled and wrung, it did not wring itself.  The servant lifted a left foot and cleared away a full days grime from its sweaty, stinky flesh.  Callouses were softened.  Miniscule sharp shards of rock removed.  All things painful and unbecoming.  The servant and the clothe dispelled the animosity of another day.
Berakah.  The bowl was shuffled noisily to the next house-guest.  Servants always hope for small dinner parties….
Berakah.  A gift.  A young woman observed from the far corner of the room.  She was tastefully ornamented and paraded a costly slice of Tyrian purple about her waste - the remnant testimony of more foolish days.  She was known to favor raisin cakes.
Berakah.  A gift.  On bended knee. The servant looked up.  Smiled.  Awkward, and he was enjoying it.  The woman across the room smiled.  She was enjoying this too.  A twisted swoosh expelled discolored liquid from the clothe and expediated the arrival of a fresh bowl.  
Berakah.  A gift. On bended knee.  Of equal value.  The servant immersed both hands.  Clean again, but only for a while.  He wadded the clothe and then spread it over another foot.  So many guests today.  Lives.  People.  The youth shuddered as the clothe and hand swam over his right arch.  Ticklish.  James shifted his shoulder and slouched.  Lower.  So awkward.  The woman who favored raisin cakes concealed her humorous thoughts.  
Berakah.  A gift.  On bended knee.  Of equal value.  To the life of the receiver.  The next man widened and winced his expression.   A tear?  He blew out cool humility.  The water was poured, still mostly clean, over both feet.  They were lifted over and then into the bowl.  All the way in.  All the way.  The whole thing.  Maybe the water should just be poured all over his dirtied humanity.  Maybe he was so filthy it should all be cleaned!
No, said the servant, this is enough.  He scrubbed mud from the left inside ankle.  He had taken a bath, correct?  Yes. Then he was clean.  Just removing the animosity of another day walking through lively streets of humanity.  
But this was unacceptable, insisted the man.  The servant was confused.  He looked around the room at the puzzled faces.  Household servants clean dinner guests feet everyday!  “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” Matthew 20:28.  Like a husband…. He looked up at the tawny fisherman, “If I do not wash you, you have no share in me,” John 13:8.  
If I do not bow on my knees and offer you my life as a gift of equal value to your own, we are not one… .Berakah… .take the gift.    The woman who favored raisin cakes watched with her eyes.  The fisherman’s eyes moved across the offering.  He wondered.  What was this gift?  He did not really know.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” John 13:12.

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