If Ye Love Me

So many ways to wash feet:
the posture, not the precise nature of the action, matters – poised
at ground level, familiar with the dust
and grime of the day’s streets,
outer garments shed to throw off all show,
the creak in the knees accompanying the splash
and the mess of the self washing off in the bowl.

So many ways, yet I
am more comfortable to be Peter:
indignant, swinging
between pride and gung-ho humility,
reserved and haughty in equal measure,
more at home with excuses
than the flagrant shame of love.

If I would be a disciple, I need only start
with the crick in these old, ossified joints
as I teach them to get love’s job done.

Maundy Thursday

images
The Washing of Feet – Sieger Koder
Like Peter, I am thrown.
The new commandment is old – older than water –
but never does it feel
old when it knocks where the heart’s most calloused,
with desert-worn feet, soles encased
in grime and travail.

Water washes, but the command penetrates.
And the action – the knees bent, the teacher’s degradation –
gives flesh to the mandate’s pointed bone,
flesh that will be pierced. May I be pierced.
I need more than water;
I need chisel to my stone.

Under Construction (Glenroy Lent: Maundy Thursday)

All night we pour out bitumen;
by day we mark out new lanes, construct
the avenues of better days,
the now-not-yet of our ways.

We close our eyes before the promised land;
passed over, we pass over the times
when paddock became mill became smelter.
Not done with the smelter yet, and yet

when the day is done, we wash our feet
after kneeling and washing
the paths for all feet. This new command
we half-receive as ash turns firm as clay.

Lent 44: Maundy Thursday

Detail from Ford Madox Brown, "Jesus Washing Peter's Feet", Tate Online
Detail from Ford Madox Brown, “Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet”, Tate Online

A new command I give to you

High Priests gather; darkness looms

That you love as I’ve loved you

Pilate’s wife now dreams…

 

Love your enemies and pray

Judas gives back bloody coins

Blessed are the merciful

The High Priests buy a field

 

This is how all men will know

Pilate struts; the people shout

That you are all my followers

Judas hangs in shame.

 

If you have love, one to another

“Shall I give him back to you?”

A new command I give to you

“Crucify!” they scream.