It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly insignificant moments turn into profound moments of insight and inspiration. One such moment happened last week when I was visiting my parents. Prior to my visit I had been thinking about ways I could serve them that would express how much they mean to me. They are both nearing their 80th year and I realize each remaining day I have with them here on earth is a gift. We have always been a close family but since moving away, I have felt an unfamiliar and unwelcome distance. Our relationship has been reduced to phone calls, Facebook posts and the brief visits I can squeeze into my busy life, when I am in town. It’s true you don’t fully understand or appreciate what you have, until you no longer have it. I genuinely miss spending time with my children, grandchildren, my sisters and brothers, my nieces and nephews and especially . . . my mom and dad. As I pondered over my silent list of service ideas, a simple thought came to me, “Tammy, you should could give them a foot massage.” At first I giggled and dismissed it. I even wondered where such a silly thought would come from. Then I remembered when I was a child, both of them loved having their feet rubbed. So I grabbed my foot lotion and headed over to their house. On the way there my idea took on a life of its own and I decided I would give them the “full treatment” soaking, washing, drying AND a deep foot massage. After visiting with them for a while, I waited for the right moment and boldly announced, “I’m here to give you both a foot massage!” The look on their faces made it clear, my words took them by surprise. They both immediately declined my offer but I ignored them and told them, “This is going to happen! I’m doing mom’s feet first and then yours dad!” I still smile to myself picturing my mother’s continued vocal objections, while she “willingly” helped me find a basin, soap and dry towels. I filled the basin with warm water and then positioned myself at my mother’s feet. As I eased her feet into the basin of water and slowly took one foot at a time and gently washed it with soap, it was as if I was being transported back through time and space. Here cradled in my hands were the feet of the woman who gave me life. These feet had paced countless nights, rocking back and forth to the rhythm of soothing lullabies. These feet had walked tireless miles while steadying the feet of her children, as we took our first steps and learned to walk in the truthfulness of her heart. Her feet had carried her through endless trials and unconditional love. These feet had trod hallowed ground when they brought her all puffy and broken, after suffering an unknown heart attack, to the bedside of my dying son, because without any words spoken between us, she somehow knew, I needed my mother, to comfort and shelter me in my darkest hour of need. As I dried her feet and began to rub lotion on them, I noticed how tired and worn they looked. These aged feet bore the marks of years and immeasurable miles of service and love. I realized I had just washed the feet of an angel. Humbly I began the process again, now with my father. Again I thought back on all of the years of selfless labor his feet had endured to provide for his family. His feet were also worn with the cares of life yet I do not ever remember him complaining about his responsibilities of being a husband and father. He woke up each day and his feet carried him to his first job, then his second and sometimes even his third and then carried him home to do the same thing again, over and over and over again. His feet worked to the point of exhaustion so my feet could run, jump and climb to the top of physical and metaphorical mountains! His feet have always been hard working and dedicated feet but also happy feet! As I worked the lotion in I remembered all of the times my father’s feet have danced enthusiastically while marching to the beat of his own personal and unique drummer. I felt honored to hold and care for these feet. After hugging and kissing my mom and dad goodbye, another thought crossed my mind. If something happened to either them or me I would want the last memory we have between us, to be that of a grateful and devoted daughter, who used a basin of water, a bar of soap, a dry towel and some lotion to express her love for them, because sometimes words are not enough. I believe in some small way, this was what it might have been like when the Savior, in His final hours here on earth, took the time to gently, lovingly, symbolically wash the feet of His disciples. I believe this was one of the ways He expressed His love for them. I also believe He wanted to set an example for each of us to follow. I invite you to do just that. Think of someone who has made a difference in your life. It could be a parent, a grandparent, a spouse, a child, a grandchild, a sibling, a relative, a neighbor, a friend, a teacher; it could be someone who you haven’t been in contact with for a while, someone who may be hurting, grieving or even dying, maybe even a stranger. Go to them. Spend time with them. Love them. Serve them and then . . . wash their feet. I promise it will change your life.
“So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” – John 13: 12-17