Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 6 April 9, 2009: be thou my feet

Today is Maundy Thursday, so I not only had my feet washed, but I also had them massaged by the Care Through Touch Institute that provides healing touch for the poor. Yet, today was more than just a day of beautiful metaphor and calling to help and serve one another, it was also a day when my anger about the lack of safety for others turned into anger for the lack of safety for myself.

I'm not talking about physical safety (grandma, please take a sigh of relief). Rather, I'm talking about the emotional abuse and harassment women are taught to face daily and required to respond with kindness and passivity. The kind of thing that happens on a full moon. I have been noticing that the manic kindness and hostile anger that the shelter staff hurls towards the residents of the shelter are the same as an abusive parent. At least they put me in the space of being a scared five year old around my alcoholic father, hoping that if I didn't move or wasn't noticed that things would be fine.

The emotional trauma of a shelter, meant to be sanctuary, that entrenched the abusive dynamics which lead many of these women to be here in the first place, is not charity. It is not something for which they ought to be grateful. Nor is it anything anyone ought to endure for a roof over their head.

The prayers of Judith come to mind tonight. The wail of Legion, whose trauma upon trauma keep him home captive and alone, yearning for healing and companionship.

Feet that are not dirty, need not to be washed. So, bring your tired, your weary, your muddy and bloody to the water that seeks to prepare you to face the death that stalks us all.

We sing:
Be thou my feet and guide my walking
Be thou my eyes that I might see
Open my heart give me compassion
Hear my cry and answer me

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