Observance

“Be One on Whom Nothing is Lost.”

Henry James

The Last Supper. Foot Washing. And the Four Agreements. These are things I am observing today. What does observing mean, anyway? Watching. Listening. Honoring. Commemorating. Rituals and tenets, left behind for us to follow, by wise men and women.

There are timeless lessons in all three of these things. The Last Supper — Breaking Bread together. Slowing down, and honoring, that which nourishes us. Being in communion with one another. Boy, is Corona showing us the importance of that. Yet another reason the nickname given to Coronary health care workers is “The Beast;” it is evil in every sense–the anxiety is brutal, whether you have it or not, and the alienation from one another is de-humanizing.

Air, water, food, human and spiritual connection are vital needs of ours. Jesus taught us this, today we observe it.

Two thousand years later it applies more than ever. Fred Buechner puts it perfectly;

“WE DON’T LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, but we also don’t live long without it. To eat is to acknowledge our dependence both on food and on each other. It also reminds us of other kinds of emptiness that not even the blue-plate special can touch.  “

There was also the foot washing on this ‘Maundy Thursday.’ Jesus knew it was his last night on earth and that’s what Jesus chose to do with his time? Wash his disciples feet? What was he saying?

This ritual was brought to my attention through a friend, a rector, whose observance has been influential to many, including me. (Jay works with organizations & individuals helping them support their spiritual growth with a balance of insight, humor, and importance w/o self importance. Well worth checking out at www. Renewalworks.org. ) When I asked him about foot washing, he offered this;

“The whole thing is just so kind of awkward and embarrassing and humbling and humiliating, which is why I think it’s so powerful, and why Jesus told us to just do it. “

and this,

Caption appreciated: “Note to self: Don’t schedule foot washing service right after the high school basketball team practice.”

This ritual was downright gross, making the message all the more poignant. I have to imagine, back in the days of unpaved streets, sandals, and pre-dating the word ‘pedicure,’ those feet were nasty.

None of us are above serving others, no matter the task. Observing this practice, both as a reflection and a daily reminder, keeps us humble.

I’ve spoken with so many, today in particular, about Corona leveling the playing field. No one is immune; all of us are vulnerable. And while there is information being collected, and progress being gained from that, it is very clear that Corona is a disease of uncertainty and anxiety, with variables that make no one immune to its potential for devastation. This has been tremendously humbling, particularly for those used to being in control, which is most of us. Or at least think we are.

Medical professionals, patients, drug companies, fathers and mothers, children and grandparents, grocery store clerks and mailmen, lawyers, politicians, community organizers; the list doesn’t end. We all have our own vulnerability in common. No on his above or below anyone else. We are all in this together. And how we respond- whether that is with faith or fear, and with or without consideration- is up to us.

With faith, we observe patience, growth, love, courage, and trust. Trust in what? Trust in that which we believe, that which we can rely on, and that which we know in our hearts to be true- now, then, and always. We find this faith, and keep our fears in check, with observance. Rituals, anniversaries, traditions, and tenets are just reminders to observe my beliefs. Included in these are the facts that life is hard, and life is good.

The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, are not part of Holy Week, but they are a huge part of my own observance. (Ask my kids who have about five copies each, sadly mostly unread.) By following these simple truths/agreements one keeps with themselves, with God, and with others, this ancient Toltec wisdom guides us toward a life of love and happiness, and away from fear and suffering. Consider these fundamental truths; I am finding them to be particularly applicable in these times of Corona quarantine.

Last night I watched some old Masters highlights. April is not April without seeing the cherry blossoms, camaraderie, and spirit of the Masters Golf Tournament. Since this year, this seasonal rite of passage was canceled, sports channels are using their airtime to commemorate years past, honoring the journeys and stories of joy, struggle and comeback. Through Tiger, Phil, Larry, there are so many lessons that can help us, if we take the time to remember.

What you choose to observe is your choice.

It might also be argued, it is also your responsibility.

What are you observing today?

Make it good.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jen Pen

    Feet.
    I remember kissing and make believe nibbling on my toddler’s chubby feet. And then not doing that anymore at some point.
    I remember drives home from soccer practices with preteen girls’ stinky socks shed and the car windows all open for clean air.
    These are precious memories.
    Thank you for unearthing them.
    ❤️

  2. Judy Johnson

    I Remember going to church with Brooks G.(age 10) who volunteered for the Washing of the Feet. A beautiful experience. Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts. With love, Judy

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