Mar. 31st, 2010

gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Orchid)
Holy Week and I am mostly posting now in an attempt to distract myself from how much pain I'm in and how all I want to do is crawl into bed and refuse to come out. This post has changed its mind several times about what it is. First it was going to be about theologies of illness and disability, but basically that just made me keep crying, so that will have to wait till I'm feeling better. Next it was going to be about preaching on Good Friday. Now I think it's about bodies and Holy Week.

Holy Week is just this gruelling marathon, even for temporarily-able clergy. From our first service last Sunday to our last service on Easter Sunday there were 19 services that my boss and I were doing, or had to be at. The theory is that everything else just gets put aside, but of course, life doesn't generally work like that. Other things keep cropping up, and some of them aren't listening to me saying "Look, can I deal with that after Easter?"

Like, for instance, my body. It's Holy Week, I could really use a break here. I'm in so much pain, and my pain-killers seem to be having no effect. Next week I'll start with a new doctor, and see if we can't actually control some of the worst of the pain. But this week, I'll just have to manage. And avoid screaming with pain during actual services.

Then I had this really interesting experience. Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, in which we remember the Last Supper. During that meal Jesus washed his friends' feet. In our services, we wash one another's feet. In my last parish, it was just anyone at that service who felt moved at the time who put out their feet for the washing. Here, we ask people in advance.

I expected people to be perhaps a trifle reluctant but am surprised to have encountered so many out and out "No, never, not me." Certainly, some people are uncomfortable with being touched by others, for most of these people I'm confident it is not that sort of dynamic going on here.

Yes, the experience of foot-washing is intensely intimate, both as a washee and as a washer. There is deep vulnerability involved, as a washee a real entrusting oneself to another, and as a washer a deep respect for the trust placed in us.  But here's the thing, as church, vulnerability is what we are about. We should be pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone in trusting others. (There are immense individual differences in what this will mean, I recognise that for some, leaving the house, going to a building with a group of strangers and negotiating the accessibility issues they find there is a huge, huge demonstration of trust and vulnerability)

I guess I'm also wondering how much our view of our body comes into play here to. Many of the feet I've washed wouldn't be displayed in a magazine, sure. But we believe that we are creations of God. We say "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it!" I guess it saddens me that we don't seem able to say "This is the body that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!"


gwyn_bywyd: Photo of a yellow orchid. (Default)

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