Monday, September 15, 2008


It was neatly written in pink chalk on the concrete slab under the bridge. The message could easily be read by the hundreds of people who sat on the grass because of the enormity of the letters. Though the letters were huge, the message was even bigger: "You are not forgotten. Jesus loves you."

My flat feet are not conducive to spending long hours standing or running around, so the gift certificate for a spa pedicure was an enjoyable gift from my supervisors. My toenail polish looks pretty, but it's the foot massage that I really cared about.

I slept in, sat in a massage chair, soaked my feet, ate a delicious lunch with a good friend, and then headed to the park under the Washington/Jefferson St. bridge to meet up with my church.

I came prepared with my hair-cutting scissors and a comb.

And then a woman approached me and asked about the empty basins and towels that were set up. I looked around, expecting someone to be present at the station - no one was. It's because I was the foot washer.

My heart softened immediately as I realized how perfect this opportunity was. So, without skipping a beat, I set down my scissors (aka my agenda) and beckoned her to follow me. I filled up a basin and waited for her to roll up her jeans. I lifted her stiff legs and began to rub water on her shins as her feet soaked. Her skin was spotted and her scabs and scars told stories of things she might not ever say out loud, at least not to a stranger like me.

I did my best with my hands, but I needed a scrub brush to remove all the caked on dirt that embedded itself in her dry, cracked callouses. I worked on her heels for a long time, stopping a few times to add a few more pumps of soap to loosen the grime.

"This feel so good." she noted over and over again. I silently agreed, glancing at my own freshly-massaged feet.

A man lingered nearby, commenting on how "biblical" this all was, and how he'd never seen a church do something like this. I smiled and invited him to be next. He politely declined but walked by several times saying "oh no, that's not for me. You don't need to touch my feet." I told him that foot massages feel so good and that he was missing out. He nervously chuckled and left... only to return 3 more times before finally consenting.

As I dried Denise's feet with a fluffly, white towel, she remarked at the difference a little foot bath had made for her feet. I couldn't scrub all the dirt off, but they did look much better. I massaged lotion into her feet while I told her the story of how Jesus washed his disciples feet, and quoted the familiar scripture "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." I asked her how I could pray for her, and she mentioned her emotional well-being as well as her alcohol addiction.

I put my arm around her and prayed for Denise. I claimed that God hadn't forgotten her and would take care of her every need. I prayed that she'd feel loved and hopeful. I gave her a hug and noticed tears in her eyes. She thanked me and then disappeared.

Dave was next. He had just gotten his hair cut at a different station, saying he was going for the "I'm going to get a job" kind of look. After I washed his feet and prayed with him, I shook his hand. He said it was symbolic of a hug.

Then Eldy, a man who had been walking the coast out in Florence for quite some time. He was new to the Eugene area and he inquired all about Northwest Christian University when I told him what I did. He complimented my brownish-greenish eyes and called me beautiful.

Then another Denise, who tells people on the street that her name is Angela. Angela was a nickname given to her by her grandfather when she was a baby, because he told her she looked angelic in her crib with a lightbeam encircling her small head. She's been living in her truck for 4 years with her husband and requested prayer for a job and place to live.

These people touched my heart on Saturday and I've been thinking about them ever since.

I found a place of honor at their feet as I sat on a metal crate with my hands in the dirty water.

A freshman in my First Year Seminar class shared a lectio divina this afternoon with some song lyrics by Brandon Heath:
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the brokenhearted
Wasn't it far beyond my reach?
Give me your heart for the once forgotten,
Give me your eyes so I can see

These people may have felt forgotten in the past, but they were remembered on Saturday.