After their last supper together, Jesus asked Peter to let him wash his feet. Peter protested.

Peter looked at Jesus and said, “You’ll never wash my dirty feet—never!”
“But Peter, if you don’t allow me to wash your feet,” Jesus responded, “then you will not be able to share life with me.” (from John 13 in The Passion Translation)

Jesus confronted him sternly. This was important. This was so important that Jesus said Peter could not be a part of him if he did not let Jesus wash his feet.

On that evening full of important parting instructions, he also said, “So this is my parting command: Love one another deeply!” (verse 17)

Loving one another deeply requires mutual submission. Submission is not a word I like. Surrender is even worse. By confronting Peter he gave the clear message: Unless you are willing to accept help — my help — you can’t be a part of this.

This is the aspect of submission that I’ve missed for so many years. Submission doesn’t mean being a doormat to someone who would take advantage. Submission means saying, “How can I extend myself to help you to become all Christ means you to be?” Submission also means surrendering to Christ when he says, “Let me help you.”

Submission means becoming vulnerable to God’s goodness.

Experiencing God’s goodness is a prerequisite to loving one another.

Creative Meditations for Lent, Word prompt: Let

Living in the Light

From my kitchen window, I saw the foxglove plant my sweet friend Diana gave me. It was still on the deck with a collection of other bedding plants waiting for the weather to warm up enough to plant it. The low evening sun lit its petals with fire. I just had to hobble out there with my camera to capture it. I joke that I need a sign on the back of my car that says, “This vehicle brakes for lighting conditions.”

Sometimes backlight turns objects into dark silhouettes and sometimes, when the subject is transparent, more is revealed than we could see before. This time I was fascinated by the little spots like a cobblestone path leading deeper into the heart of the flower. I snapped the photo, then covered the flats of bedding plants with a plastic tarp.

I haven’t planted them in the garden yet for two reasons. 1) It’s been unseasonably cold with frost appearing in unexpected areas the last few nights and 2) because a few days ago, while attempting to cover up the few snapdragons I did plant last week, I fell and undid a lot of physiotherapy on my legs and back.

I only meant to slip outside quickly and put a sheet over the snapdragons and pansies before going to bed. Not wanting the taller flowers to be bent by the covering, I tried to push a stick into the soil for the sheet to rest on. The stick broke and I lost my balance. When the shock wore off, I assessed the situation. I had twisted every joint and muscle on my left side in an attempt to avoid impaling myself on the broken stake as I went down. I knew instantly I had torn more cartilage in my already damaged knees and it felt like I had sprained an ankle. It was dark and cold. I had no jacket or sweater. The walker I know I should keep nearby for balance because of my knee problems was inside. I was lying like a beached whale in a muddy flower bed with only crushed snapdragons for support. I couldn’t get up. My husband was inside, in his office with the door shut, and my neighbours’ lights had been turned off for the night. No one could see me or hear me.

I prayed my most frequently used go-to prayer. “Oh God!”

Eventually I rolled out and somehow got up on the lesser damaged leg. I yelled again and my husband heard me while turning off lights before retiring. He managed to help me up the three impossible stairs to the hallway where I could ride the rest of the way seated on the walker. I couldn’t put any weight on one leg at all for a couple of days. The rest of my body reminded me of the indignity it had suffered as well. I felt so stupid.

For the past few days I’ve been showing up like a silhouette in the sun to most people, which is easy to do when we are still mostly on lockdown. What injury? Nothin’ to see here. I am definitely not looking for sympathy, but neither have I admitted why I haven’t left the house lately. So here is my transparency. You may notice I’ve got spots.

Sometimes I need help and it’s hard to admit. I want to be the one who helps others, not the one who needs someone to pull me out of the mud, but the Lord reminds me that mutual submission means saying both “Let me help you,” and “I need your help.” It may be more blessed to give than receive, but only those who know how to receive learn how to humbly give in a way that lifts people up and doesn’t put them down for the absence of judgment that got them into a mess.

Some people say that talking about an illness or injury is somehow showing a lack of faith or being negative. My response to that is, “It will be interesting to see how God uses this experience.” Faith in real time means talking about real problems and real answers to prayer. By the way, I can now put some weight on my leg and maneuver around one level of the house and, most importantly, get to the bathroom on my own. (Praise God!) Healing is happening.

To friends who prayed, washed my muddy floor, and asked if I wanted more snapdragons, thank you. To my husband who is always there (as long as he hears me) I love you. To my physiotherapist who has been working hard these past weeks to get me moving, sorry about that.

Begging to Differ

Photo: Even Calvin and Hobbes don’t always see eye to eye

What? Somebody on the internet is wrong? Well, cancel my appointments and hold my calls! I’ll straighten him out! He is probably a _____ist and you know what _____ism can lead to!

Wait. I’m trying to change.

I don’t want to go back to the days when I was told by a rather stifling range of fearful clergy and “Totalled and less-than-Fascinating Women” my husband’s opinion was my opinion (a situation which left one of us not only depressed, but redundant). When, after decade or two, my feistiness finally burst forth more than one innocent bystander was left wondering what the heck that was all about.


On the one hand, my opinion –and I do have one- (As Ellen DeGeneres wrote) needs expression, even if it is subject to change.

On the other hand, the problem with winning a game of intellectual king of the hill is that the winner takes his or her prize alone.

I’m not a career academic as many of my nearest and dearest are. Debate was considered to be disrespectful and was verboten in my family of origin (even the verbs were passive). Perhaps it started when the priest grabbed my momma by the nose and dragged out of her seat to the chair of shame in front of the other catechism students. She questioned something he said. Momma had a substantial Cleopatra-style nose which she hated, and after that day hated even more. She never stuck it in church business again and instilled the same rule against questioning clergy in us, but in the business of people she considered under her command? Well, her opinions lived large. Papa just wanted a conflict-free zone.

Imagine my shock when I married into a family whose favourite form of entertainment was recreational argument. Now I understand the academic inclination to hypothesize, criticize, revise and go at ‘er again, but at the time it seemed to me that verbal volleyball in the dining room took out a lot of light fixtures and left the participants with creamed ideas splotching their shirts and clots of mashed opinions resting in their hair. The crazy part came when the discussion began to reach resolution. They would switch sides and keep going. Politics, sex, religion, health, science, the cost of tea in China –even the weather, served as shuttlecocks. If you said, “Nice day,” someone would bat back, “Not really,” and wait for your return.

Few people enjoy arguing like that because few people can detach themselves from their ideas (including these guys). An attack on an idea can feel like an attack on identity. Have you noticed the average number of posts it takes for an internet conversation to descend from “I disagree” to “You’re a _____”? On some news sites it’s about one.

I’m fascinated by the Moravians of Herrnhut. They kept a continuous corporate prayer vigil going 24/7  for a hundred years. Before the dramatic experience of the Holy Spirit showing up in their midst with all the same weird and unexpected special effects that shook the early church in Jerusalem, the Moravians taking refuge on Count Zinzendorf’s property were as schism-ridden as churches tend to be now. The motto they adopted after the Holy Spirit event was, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love.” They lived it, went on to accomplish amazing things for the kingdom of God –and conveyed the good news of  hope and new life to many.

The Bible says:

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

We need both –sharpening and refining, but above all to be motivated by love.

If we want to learn we need to hear and discuss opinions other than our own.

If we want unity we must relinquish the need to always be right about everything.

If we want to love and build each other up we need to agree on essentials and respectfully disagree when we perceive dangerous ideas sneaking in. Love does not always look away, but we need to leave room for people in process, including ourselves. It’s called grace.

In my humble opinion.