Those who know me are aware that I come from a background of Christian faith. Those who know me well know that I have left it in my background intentionally. However, while faith and religion don’t play a significant part in my life any longer, I can still reach into that background to recognize its value both in and to others. It also comes in handy when watching Jeopardy.
One of the stories that has stuck with me through the years is the one where Jesus washed his disciples feet, which was just as much a disgusting task then as it would be today, if not more so. His disciples were taken aback by his willingness to do such lowly work, but Jesus, ever keen on the teachable moment, told them that this was the way they were to treat others.
“Do you understand what I have done for you?” He asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You are right. That is what I am. I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.”
While it is not my belief, I can appreciate the story of a prince who cares for the paupers.
During the last four years, on more occasions than I can count, our friend Laura has taken time out of her life to care for Emily and me. Laura, sometimes with family helping and sometimes alone, would come to our house and spend hours cleaning. Not just straightening. Not picking up. Cleaning. Vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, dusting, dishes, laundry, toilettes, showers, litter box. Everything.
She would break into our house, spend the day cleaning, and then leave a meal in the fridge waiting for us when we got home from a day of Emily’s treatment. Or sometimes, just from a day at work.
We always felt some measure of guilt for all the work she did, but not enough to make her stop. It was too good to pass up. And there were few things that brought Emily more joy than coming home to a clean house. Evidence of this can be found in this video she sent to Laura after coming home to an immaculate house one day last year.
As Emily’s health rapidly deteriorated this year, Laura’s attention turned from our house to Emily herself. She, along with our other friend Amanda, became the embodiment of Christ to my sweet, helpless girl. Both in the hospital and at home, Laura and Amanda would come and bathe Emily. They would fill bowls with warm water and wash her wasted little body. They would shampoo her hair and wash her face. They would gently pat her dry with warm towels and then massage lotion into her skin, which appeared aged beyond its actual years. With the care of a mother washing a newborn, these girls gave the gospel meaning.
I have never experienced anything as sacred as those moments, and I hope I never will again. But I am so thankful that I was a witness to this, and to the look on Emily’s face–the calm, relaxed joy of being clean and being cared for.
Today, when I got home, there was a meal waiting for me and the house was clean. “So clean!” Hallelujah.
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah