Ugly Feet (Really Ugly)

feetI had a friend who believed that her feet and everyone’s feet were ugly.  We vacationed many times at the beach and she never once went barefoot in the sand. She was adamantly opposed to flip flops and the toe peep shoe movement.

Only cancer moved her to show her feet in the hospital because she just didn’t care any more.  She was going to meet the Maker of her feet soon and it would be okay.

I’m curious about how many people either washed feet or allowed someone to wash their feet last night.  (Please share.)

Was the story about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet read?  Were children’s feet washed?  Did adults with freshly manicured feet allow the pastors to touch them?  Most of us feel queasy about having a stranger – or even a friend – wash our feet even if we have prettied them up.  Foot washing seems especially frowned upon in neat and tidy Protestant congregations.

How do we come clean on Good Friday and admit our complicity in evil and darkness if we were not able to reveal our own feet on Thursday?  The truth is that many of us have gnarly, bony, callused, lumpy, fungus afflicted, cracked and nasty feet.  Some of us are ashamed of our feet.  We don’t want anyone – anyone – to see them.

Good Friday is the day when we remember that the human Jesus died a hideous, ugly, shameful, terrifying death because of fear and injustice by powerful people. We are complicit in the world’s evil.  And it’s something we must confess.

My heart hurts as – even on Holy Week – my brothers and sisters in Christ (i.e. people who claim to follow Jesus) have stomped on people:  LGBTQ people. Muslim people.  Black and brown people.

We need to wash each other’s feet and allow God to wash away the ignorance and evil in each of us.  Me included.

Peter said to Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”



5 responses to “Ugly Feet (Really Ugly)

  1. We did not have foot washing last night – in fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever been to a Maundy Thursday service that included foot washing. As you said, neat and tidy Protestant congregations don’t like things to be messy.

    As a Physical Therapist though, I think that feet are beautiful. There are so many bones and joints and muscles, all in perfect balance with one another to become the wonderfully created machine that is the foot. And the lumps and bumps and calluses carry our life stories. The parts of ourselves that we perceive as unbeautiful can tell our story once the right questions are asked.


  2. I have so many thoughts on this. I did do a foot washing once, but I’m not sure I’d ever do it again. My first thought is Peter’s aversion: being served. This is hard particularly for us Americans. It is being helpless; not being in control (blog post after blog post could be written on this). Second is the intimacy. To touch anyone anywhere is an intimate act. To touch feet is particularly intimate. I don’t think it is without reason that the Hebrew euphemism for genitalia is feet.


  3. Jan- We did have a foot washing and I have to say I was thinking about Cindy during the whole thing as well.


  4. beth freese dammers

    no foot washing last night, but have shared this in Maundy Thursday worship a couple of times. I missed it last night. will return to it. vulnerability strips us to our core and I need that


  5. We(a primarily Anglo congregation) share a meal and worship with our sister (primarily African-American) congregation every Maundy Thursday. And yes, we wash each others’ feet. Last night I washed Marilyn’s feet and she washed mine. Oh, and our deacons had the beautiful idea of providing WARM water for our foot washing. How is that for true hospitality. Love your post, Jan. Thank you.


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