National Poetry Month: Day 9

When I was younger, I went to a revival during Lent.

I don't remember much except the church that was full on Saturday and Sunday had meager offerings of parishioners that awkward weeknight.

The pulse of the pulpit was palpable that night.

People shook, jumped and chomped at the bit to savor the salvation that was dangled in front of their starving souls.

We walked in two lines amidst  guttural hymns.

Hypnotic hymns my ears had never heard before but that my lips parted to sing.

One by one, we approached the altar.

No priest, no gospel, just us worshiping one another.

Acknowledging that we were here in God's house. That we were both God and human. We were alive. We were here to serve and survive this night, this world, this life.

We shuffled, sweat dripping, redemption teetering, hands shaking, to the chairs up front.

It was simple.

But it wasn't.

The man in front of me sat in the chair facing me. I knelt, as I watched the others in front me do, and removed his shoes and socks.

I peered up into his face, feeling naked, feeling ashamed and invigorated by holding this man's feet, this strangers feet in my hands.

Gently, I brought them to the basin, bathing them and pampering every inch of his soul.

Or his soles.

Both, I think.

He looked at me, into my eyes, into my heart as I sat, humbled at his feet, drying him off and redressing him with his socks and shoes.

No words were spoken.

No words could be spoken.

I was stirred and unhinged in a way that only serving a stranger could do.

He walked away, back to his pew, and I took his seat.

A woman who was behind me, now knelt before me. She gently grabbed my feet, nervous but willing. She gingerly pulled off my shoes and pale yellow socks and delicately washed them in the same basin I washed the his feet.

Humbling me again by empowering my soul.

She looked up at me, serving me, dressing me, loving me, her sister, her stranger, by this odd practice in such a public place but in our own private space.

I walked out that night, refreshed and confused, knowing nothing about my deliverance and offering no penance. 

All I could recognize was the bedrock of my faith, the fire flaming in the pit of my stomach, hungering to love others, to serve others, to honor their humanity.

I do not deny your God or gods.
I do not deny or embrace your atheism.
I do not condone or condemn your dogma.

You should only care what you believe, how you honor it, and how you live it.

I do care though that we are all here together, existing whether existentially or not is up to you, on this crazy blue marble floating in space.

We should take time to realize what a beautiful miracle this truly is, with our neighbors, our friends, our family, and our strangers because they are the only ones who could understand and relate to us.

I do hope you realize that the beauty of our faith-whether it is your faith in God or faith in one another-is not because it is immeasurable, impossible, or inconceivable but because it is remarkable, relatable and uniquely ridiculously human.


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