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A few years ago…

My husband Andy slips his foot out of his untied shoe. He peels his sock off and wriggles his toes. It is Holy Thursday, and we are at Mass. 

My youngest daughter Gemma-Rose sees our priest coming towards Andy. He is flanked by two altar servers. Quickly she buries her face into my lap. “It’s okay,” I reassure her. “Father is only going to wash Dad’s foot, just like Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper.” But Gemma-Rose refuses to watch. For some reason she is afraid.

Father kneels down in front of Andy. One altar boy hands him a bowl. The other has a jug of warm water. Father pours water over the bare foot. He then takes a soft clean towel and very gently and carefully dries it.

The other day I said, "Gemma-Rose, do you remember when you were younger and refused to watch the Washing of the Feet?"  She did remember but she couldn’t explain why she was so afraid. Perhaps it had something to do with seeing Father in an unfamiliar situation. What could he possibly be doing, kneeling at someone's feet?

There might seem, at first glance, to be something very wrong in seeing a priest kneeling down before a parishioner, his hands gently handling a foot that has just emerged from a probably sweaty sock. Father should be up at the altar. That’s where he belongs, turning bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord. He has a role like no other. He stands in the place of Jesus.

But Jesus knelt before the disciples. He washed their feet, despite Peter's protests. So our priest repeats this act of humility, reminding us that we must all love, we must all serve. I think deep down we know this is what we are called to do. Why else would Pope Francis' acts of humility, love and service affect our hearts so much?

When I married Andy I certainly had no intention of serving. I had very definite ideas about what our life together would be like. We were going to be equal partners (with me in charge). I was prickly and defensive and very opinionated. There was no way Andy was going to take advantage of me (he didn't intend to) just because I was now his wife. I decided I was going to do no more for my husband than what an equal partnership demanded.

I certainly wasn’t going to iron my husband's shirts. 

Why did I marry Andy? I married him because I love him. It took me a very long time to see that love is all about giving freely. That means being willing to serve. Marriage is not about taking from a spouse, or remaining stubbornly independent. It’s not a mutually agreed upon partnership, where every give and take is noted, added up and balanced equally. 

I was afraid to serve the man I love. I wonder why. Maybe I was afraid I’d end up doing all the giving and my husband would just lap it up without reciprocating. But that's not what happened. The more I give, the more Andy gives to me.

I love. And I am loved. 

I don’t really love ironing shirts though. I don’t like ironing full stop. It’s a fiddly time-consuming job. I look at the overflowing ironing basket. It will take an awful lot of love to turn all those wrinkled clothes into crisp smooth shirts.

I sigh. I really don't want to iron those shirts. But a bit of ironing won't kill me, will it? My act of love is really only minor.

Unlike Jesus'.

I love. I am loved. Does it get any better than that?



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  1. Can you imagine being the 12 disciples watching Jesus get ready to wash their feet? Days afterwards, did they think back about that special night and start putting things together about how important it is to serve rather than be served? I do mighty fine serving at church at this and that, but it is hard to serve at home. I struggle with it, but do it, making the iced tea that I don't even drink, but it is service. And that's what Jesus wants us to do; serve and think of others more than ourselves (but it sure is hard a lot of times!)

    betty

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  2. Betty,

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. It's easy to do all those more visible outside jobs as a way of serving. Maybe we get recognition which sweets the work. But at home... All those little acts of service for our loved ones. Yes, that is so hard! Struggle but do it anyway... I reckon that is much more valuable than if we enjoyed doing it. Sometimes the struggle actually turns into something wonderful. I hate ironing, but when I see my husband looking at all those crisp shirts, I feel so good! A good day to reflect upon serving. I hope you have a blessed Holy Thursday!

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  3. I was thinking about ironing today, too. My husband seldom wears shirts that need to be ironed, except for his Sunday shirts. He usually hangs them up right after Mass and reuses them until I peek in the closet and throw them in the laundry. My oldest son loves wearing button down shirts and I hate ironing them. He prefers them to t-shirts. It is not a difficult job, but rather tedious. The last time I ironed all of his shirts, I put on my ipod and prayed the rosary while ironing. I prayed that rosary just for him. It made the job seem like less of a chore. I have to remind myself to do that every time. Thanks for reminding me to serve those in my own home with a joyful heart. God Bless.

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    Replies
    1. Tina,

      Oh I do like your idea of praying the Rosary while you iron! I could also listen to a spiritual talk on my iPod. I have lots of those waiting for a quiet moment which never seems to arrive. Thank you so much for stopping by with that suggestion. It is always such a pleasure exchanging a comment with you. I hope you have a very happy Easter!

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  4. "I love. I am loved." So true. There is nothing better than that. For me, life is so much easier to maneuver because the Husband is in it. :-)
    The View from the Top of the Ladder

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    Replies
    1. Susie,

      I am very blessed in my husband. It sounds like you are too. Yes, life would be much more difficult ( and less fun) if I didn't have Andy. This morning I am feeling very grateful for what I have! Thank you for stopping by. Have a good day!

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  5. Life is much better when you have someone to share it with! But I do believe marriage is a partnership. One of the best things about it is, if one of you hates one thing, the other can pick it up. I just take our shirts to the dry cleaner!

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    1. Stephanie,

      You have made such a good point about marriage! We can work together, each using our strengths and preferences. Of course there will be some things I like doing and Andy hates. I have found there are still lots of mundane things that no one likes doing though, and there's those little things like getting up and making a cup of coffee for my husband because I see he is tired etc.

      Oh I wish I could take the shirts to the dry cleaner! Unfortunately that's too expensive for our budget. I will just have to keep on ironing....

      Thank you for your comment. It's appreciated!

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  6. Wonderful story. No, it doesn't get any better than loving and being loved. The right person makes all the difference.
    Silvia @
    SilviaWrites

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    Replies
    1. Silvia,

      I feel very fortunate to be married to my best friend and love of my life. I met my husband at school! Couldn't imagine life without him.

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I enjoyed reading your own A - Z posts. They are very interesting!

      Delete

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