Tonight I went to church solo - my babies are with their dad for a couple of hours. It's still an adjustment going places without them. I miss them when they are away from me, even if it is just for a few hours. It turned out to be a good thing though that I was on my own. I think I was more able to settle into the rhythm of worship.
The story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet struck a new chord with me. I was so moved by Peter's cry in the Gospel lesson tonight. When he begins (and I say begin, because I think he still struggled with it all) to understand why Jesus is washing the disciples' feet, he exclaims, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" He wants so badly to accept the love offered by his teacher, that he wants to be washed completely. Not to be only partially washed, he hopes to be fully cleansed. I understand his longing. Once I have tasted the divine, I only want more. Nothing satisfies me more than this. This incredible longing for God is powerful, consuming and a love unlike any other. It overwhelms me with emotion. I am rendered speechless and teary-eyed. And so I, too, want more. In fact, I, like Peter, long for more.
This combined with the sermon I heard tonight makes this day feel different to me this year. In the past, I have always thought of this day as one of a remembrance of the Lord's Supper. However, the sermon preached tonight reminded me of something different. As we turn towards the last night for Jesus on earth - his prayers in the garden - I am reminded that there is something missing. Despite all the growth I have experienced in the past year - it is incomplete.
It's not magic or anything earth shattering. The thing - that thing - is unconditional love. Despite all of what I want and believe and hope for - unconditional love is that thing that still eludes me at times. I want to experience it. Taste it. Know it fully. Be able to participate in the mystery - to love others without restrictions. And at times I catch a glimpse, and I like Peter, cry out for more and for that love to be complete here on earth, here and now. There have been those moments of realization - over time - that I can identify as moments of pure, unadulterated love. The birth of each of my children is probably the most memorable. In the first hours after each of my children was born I held them close to my face. I whispered prayers to God that He/She would hold them, keep them, protect them, love them. Tears fell from my eyes, as the newborn I was holding stared wide-eyed at me. I thanked God for the chance to be their mother, for giving me the gift of a healthy infant after 40 weeks of carrying them inside me. I have never felt the presence of God closer to me than in those moments. I knew immediately what it was to love another person unconditionally. And as strong as my passion for my children is, I know that God's passion is stronger, more full, more complete than mine can be. This is why the yearning will always be with me.
I understand now that this is not that moment where the story is complete, where I am made whole. And it will never be complete on this earth. No matter my intentions, I will continue to fall short, because after all, I cannot take it all in this side of heaven. Try as I might to love myself, God, others...I will continue to miss the mark. Not because I'm inherently evil or carry the old Adam with me, but because I am human. And others will miss the mark as well, and so at times I will be faced with the fact that others cannot live up to my expectations, that they cannot love as I had hoped they could or would.
While that news used to dash my hopes and make me spiral into a depression, I don't feel that anymore. I only want the taste of it that I can experience. The moments of grace that make me yearn for more. I want to be able to give and receive as fully as I can, here and now.
I'm liking Peter more and more, and hoping that I too can drop the pretenses and acts, and accept the love of God and the love of others fully and without reservation. That I too can cry out to God that I want to be loved fully and completely. Lord, not just my feet, but my head and my hands. Without reservation. Without fear. Fully. Completely. Here and now. Amen.