Over the past few weeks, I have been suggesting in this blog that we celebrate Ordinary Time by living as Christ’s body in the world. In other words, Ordinary Time can be the church season during which we truly focus on making more intentional decisions about how to act as Jesus’ ears and eyes, hands and feet in the “ordinary time” of our everyday lives. Certainly, at times, following in the steps of Jesus requires radical love or extraordinary action. Yet more often than not our opportunities to live as Christ’s body come in the midst of the very ordinariness of life—in our relationships with loved ones, through encounters with people we have just met, and as we make decisions about what to buy and how to spend our time. As I have written in the past two weeks, we can be Christ’s ears in the world by being wholly present to others when they are talking to us. We can be Christ’s eyes in the world by practicing to see possibility and hope where these might be hard to discern.
This week I want to write about feet. Like many people, I do not particularly like feet. Part of that comes from spending sixteen years of my life in a gymnastics gym as a gymnast and later as a coach, close to and sometimes having to touch the chalk-covered bare feet of my teammates and students. Part of that comes from my own self-consciousness about my own feet. (I have what I now somewhat affectionately call a “two-headed toe.” My second and third toes seem to branch out from a common root, thus making them look more like the two-headed monster from Sesame Street than two properly formed toes.) But we have been told that every part of the body needs every other part to work together, so we cannot ignore what it means to live as Jesus’ feet in the world.
• We can walk (or use our feet to pedal a bike) instead of taking a car as a way to reduce our carbon footprint on our beautiful, God-created planet.
• We can walk (or ride a bike) for causes we believe in. We can raise money for a charity walk to benefit an important cause (e.g. cancer, MS, AIDS research, etc.). We can walk at local and state government offices as part of peaceful rallies to bring attention to issues that affect the common good of our communities.
• We can make choices about the places into which we walk. For instance, we can think about walking into local businesses that support the community and spending our shopping dollars there.
• We can make choices about the places we walk away from. For instance, we may find it necessary to walk away from certain friends or gatherings that have the potential to lead us into behavior that could get us into trouble or lead away from being the people we want to be.
• We can make choices about the people we walk toward and with. In other words, if we see someone hurting, left out, or in need of support, we can walk toward them and with them on their journey, offering them our friendship and compassion.
This week’s Gospel reading (Luke 1:57-66, 80) also suggests another important aspect of living as Christ’s feet in the world: using our feet to get away from it all. This story from Luke details the naming of John the Baptist and ends with a one sentence summary of John’s life prior to his public ministry. John “grew and became strong in Spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” What this verse implies is that John grew strong away from his family and culture. John needed this time alone in the wilderness to ready himself for his public ministry. Here he could pray, developing the spiritual strength to become a prophet, one who would speak out against injustice and prepare the path for Jesus to follow him.
Even though most of us will not spend close to thirty years alone in the desert nurturing a life of prayer, we can still learn something from John. Time alone, away from cultural influences and from the mostly well-meaning advice of friends and family, is important for the development of spiritual strength and for a sense of one’s self. John emerged from the desert knowing his purpose in life: to be a prophetic preacher proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God. Time alone is also an important component to deepening one’s relationship with God.
This week see if you can use your feet to take yourself “away from it all,” if only for five minutes a day. Take that time to pray and to deepen your relationship with God. For it is from this strength of relationship with God and this strength of sense of self that you can best act as Christ’s body in the world.
What other ways can you envision living as Christ’s feet in the world?Photo courtesy of Diaâ„¢ via Creative Commons License