Every year when I invited the people I served to come and have their feet washed on Maundy Thursday (always in an Anglican decently-and-in-order sort of way by which the custom was all may, none must, some should) I did so, as according to the words in The Book of Alternative Services,
that I may recall whose servant I am by following the example of my Master (p305).Holiness, not hygiene. As a result of that simple, moving rite one year, I received this note from an elderly woman saint in the parish:
Lent is one of the Church seasons when I quietly reflect on Jesus’ journey to the cross and his crucifixion. Maundy Thursday seems to me to be almost as sorrowful a day as Good Friday. The foot-washing ceremony is something I never took part in. This year as Maundy Thursday approached several of my friends told me what a powerful service they thought the foot-washing was.
After a day and night of prayer and meditation, I realized that pride had kept me from the foot washing. Because of my hammer toes and rotten looking feet, I had never wanted anyone to see them.
At the Maundy Thursday service, I was still ambivalent about having my feet washed. Images of Jesus washing his disciples feet flooded my thoughts and I said to myself, “Do it.”
As my feet were being washed, a feeling of great humility came over me. As they were being dried, I felt a great desire to wash another’s feet. While doing so, I was filled with ecstasy and great emotion. I felt myself to be in a more spiritual realm. My soul was filled with wonderment and love. I was at the foot of the cross; a more fervent believer than ever before.That’s what observing Holy Lent on Maundy Thursday can do.