On my recent mission in Togo I learned a lot about foot washing. I mean a lot. Togo does dust well. Much of the ground consists of beautiful red powder. Lovely to look at but a bear to keep off your feet.
The first night before bed I washed my feet. I thought I was thorough but in the morning the sheets were marked with dust. So the next night I washed them again and placed a wet towel beside the bed to give them one last wipe before hitting the hay.
Next morning, again, dust all over the sheets.
As the week wore on, I learned that there are little places behind and between my toes that tended to collect particles and hold onto them, only to release the dust all over my sheets when I wasn't watching. I had to be thorough and conscientious to get at these spots before bed. Consequently, I got pretty good at foot washing - so much so that my sheets were progressively cleaner every morning.
But, of course, this little exercise in thoroughness went beyond my feet. That week I studied a Bible story that spoke of the importance of foot washing - which in its spiritual sense represents removing with care anything that would obscure, overlay, contaminate, or block one's pure view of God and His creation. Wouldn't it be as important for me to be thorough in cleansing my thought and behavior of anything that would interfere with my knowing God and expressing my godlikeness as His perfect image, or reflection? I saw I couldn't afford to let tiny, subtle negative thoughts to cling to me in hidden places, obscure divine Good from my view, and mucky-up my behavior and attitude. Such mental and spiritual foot washing was infinitely more important at the beginning of my day than the actual washing of my feet at night.
When Moses was directed by God to build the tabernacle in the desert wilderness, he was instructed to set up a laver - a basin, bowl, or cistern - to wash in before entering in. I assume that this was to prevent them from tracking the desert dust into their worship space. Desert dust might take the form of complaint, doubt, fear, discomfort, impatience, frustration, annoyance, pickiness, discouragement, and so on. These clingy mortal thoughts would rob the day of its normal joy and would leave a nasty mark on everything if we don't wash them out.
Here is a short list of some of the ways one might get at the mortal thoughts that we don't want to track into the day:
Start off with a good dose of Bible study. Read it regularly. Let the Word feed you with holy thoughts. Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science Founder, insisted that her students make, every day, a prayerful study of the Bible, and obtain the spiritual understanding of its promises. (See First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, 48)
Here are three good examples of what regular, daily Bible study promises to do for you:
And don't neglect to pray for yourself. Be open to a bigger sense of God and a clearer more spiritual sense of you and your world as you pray. Ask God to tell you what He sees in you, and don't be afraid of what you will hear. God isn't just loving; God is Love. Divine Love loves you.
Everything that is real and true and permanent in you originates in Love. The rest? It's desert dust. Let Love's view of you wash you clean, - detach from you any self-conscious sense of evil. The Christ is Love's message of good for you, bathing you in His goodness, and revealing what you are really made of. You are good. Trust these Christ-messages. They won't mislead you. You have nothing to fear in opening yourself to the Christ in prayer.
Mary Baker Eddy's "Daily Prayer" is a good one for getting rid of the sneaky, hidden grit in thought. Praying it with daily regularity leads to a richer experience of your real dust-free self, and your real dust-free world:
In Article VIII, Section 4, of the Manual of The Mother Church Mrs. Eddy says, "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to pray each day: 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!"
That is an invitation (actually a daily duty) to wash your feet - your mind and your life - of anything that would obscure your spirituality and the healing power that comes with it, before stepping into the holy tabernacle of your day.
Would a good thorough foot washing make a difference to your day? How do you do it? And how has your pure and clean thought prepared you to help others?
Stay tuned. The next post will look at foot washing from another angle.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no