Yesterday, I found myself talking about my mission. For those of you who have heard anything at all about my mission, you know it was fraught with crazy people, wild tales, hard work, and unbelievable events. I can entertain a whole room of people just with stories of cockroaches and animals wearing clothes and companions who cried and hid in closets and couldn't read and were deaf and are now in mental institutions....
But the part about my mission that I always forget to talk about, because it's just not as entertaining, is the part where I learned to serve and love and care for people. It's also the part where I learned the power of Jesus Christ. When I was on my mission my own personal goal was to metaphorically wash the feet of those around me. I bought a print of the painting above my first week out on my mission and kept a print of it in every apartment that I lived in as I moved to various parts of Florida.
I've had a few thoughts this morning about Jesus and Easter and religion and service. And most of them are echoed by a friend of mine, Maithri. He is a doctor living in Australia, but traveling to Swaziland to give aid and help where he can. He truly knows all about washing of the feet. This morning I want to share his words with you.
Throughout my life I have fought not only for tolerance, but for the celebration of all faiths and belief systems. To reap the harvest of our diverse understandings of love has always seemed to me to be part of the excitement, the joy of living.
My friends are muslim and hindu, jew and pagan, atheist and agnostic. I see no belief system as exalted. No way as the 'right' way. Merely a thousand painted ways of presenting the same universal truths.
Still the stories of Jesus' love, have always spoken deeply to my heart.
I fear that his ideals of unbounded, inclusive, universal love have been warped and tortured by small fearful minds trapped within cages of literalism and spiritual arrogance.
For me, at its core, his teachings were and always have been about deep humility and non judgement.
I see him washing the feet of the poor, the outcast, the reviled. I see him walking with leper and prostitute, thief and liar. And I think to myself "I wanna love like that."
Here in Swaziland, a day feels like a year. I ride the rollercoaster of deep despair and wild gratitude and celebration for the smallest act of kindness.
This morning before I headed out to see an old grandmother who was unable to leave her bed, I saw two Swazi women talking.
One said to the other "I know you are going through such deep sorrow CiCi (sister). I will take it all to God tonight and lay it under his cross."
Jesus is dying here in Swaziland and throughout the developing world. Covered in sores and kaposi sarcoma. He is a little girl being raped by her drunken father. Two little boys who are weeping at the freshly dug grave of their mother. He is the outcast. The forgotten. The hated and unloved.
Tommorrow is Good Friday.
We have organised a meal for 50 orphans at the Makhewu carepoint. Cooking starts at 7am. The party starts at 12.
I think there are more than enough 'religious' people in the world. Enough judgement and arrogance and exclusiveness.
I dont want to be religious. I dont even want to be a Christian.
All I want to do is take a bowl of water and wash the feet of my brother, my sister in pain.
To love them.
Not because I am 'special' or 'chosen' but because we are one.
As I try to find where my religious beliefs are at this time, I find myself wanting to avoid all labels. I don't know if I'm a Christian anymore, I really don't, and that phrase seems to scare people. But I do know that I can look to Jesus as a teacher and I can embrace the powerful love that he showed to everyone, and by living a life of washing the feet of my brothers and sisters is just about the best life that you can live.
P.S. --How adorable is my little niece in her new Easter dress (that I got at Old Navy for only $10!!! ) And the headband she is wearing was found in my drawer. I bought it in Brazil from a lady who was making them on the side of the road to feed her family. You can see more photos from our Easter shoot at my photo blog.