Understanding and Footwashing

“The message of hope the contemplative offers you, then, brother, is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God: but that whether you understand or not, God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons.” – Thomas Merton

I have not been well the last few days. Spring colds are a great annoyance. In the meantime I have been reading and I have been reminded of greats like Merton. I love the profound nature of what he offered of himself to the world. It is great to read again his words of comfort as I wade through the jungle of problems that surround us all – “whether [I] understand or not, God loves [me], is present in [me], lives in [me], dwells in [me], calls [me], saves [me], and offers [me] and understanding and light which are like nothing [I] ever found in books or heard in sermons.” I do not always understand how God is at work in me. Do you understand how God is at work in you? Is understanding how God is at work in you or in me really what matters? According to Thomas Merton God’s love and God’s presence and God’s saving help are bigger than our understanding.

This afternoon I had the privilege to spend half an hour in the Walk Through Holy Week program at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake. The kids learn about each of the key days in Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. My part was to sit with them and talk about the Last Supper and what Jesus was doing on that night with his friends. Before they came to the table (a rug on the floor) they were taught about the foot-washing. As a visible symbol they kids all placed their feet in muddy paint and walked across a canvass. Their first footprints were bold, dirty and dark. As they neared the far edge of the mat their footprints were fait and nearly clear as the dirt had worn away. What bit of dirt was left was then washed off by one of their little friends. They created a beautiful painting with their feet that displays well the nature of how God helps us be cleansed for all the muck and grime as we walk on our journey. As we sat around the ‘table’ afterward and shared bread and ‘wine’ I was really taken by the little faces and their awe with the story of the Last Supper.  Had me thinking – do they understand this? Then I thought – wait a minute – Do I understand this? That got me thinking about Merton and the notion that the love which is poured out in Jesus is beyond our comprehension and beyond our understanding. The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus is not about understanding. If it were most of us would be refused at the table. But the Sacrament is about Love! It is about a saving love that is broken and shared. A redeeming love that is offered each time we quench the thirst of a sister or brother who is parched.

I was feeling pretty parched this afternoon — and 30 or so children quenched my thirst with the love of Jesus. I do not understand it — but I am pleased to know that God is at work in those children and that God may be at work in me too! 

Congratulations to Jane on a day well organized and very instructive for the Children of the church and of Essex Deanery.

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