The Curious Intimacy of Feet

It is curious how intimate feet are. We don’t touch another person’s feet unless we are intimate — spouse, lover, or masseur for example — and have been given special permission to do so. Apart from our genitals, feet are the part of our bodies least likely to be touched by another. Feet come into contact with the ground. Feet are dirty — or at least we perceive them that way.

Indeed, “feet” is sometimes used in the Hebrew Bible as a euphemism for genitals, as in Ruth 3, where Ruth’s offering herself sexually to Boaz is described as uncovering and lying down at his “feet.”

In the gospel of John, Jesus completes his life of service, teaching, and healing by washing the feet of his disciples. In many Christian traditions, this ritual of service is re-enacted as part of Maundy Thursday, the night before the crucifixion, as the priest washes the feet of people in the congregation. It is a intimate action of love — specifically intended as an expression of Jesus’s final commandment: “…that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”(John 13: 34-35)

Moses has an intimate yet powerful encounter with God and earth at the burning bush:

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  (Exodus 3: 1-5)

Approached with such awareness, intention, and openness to divine presence, any ground can be holy ground. Indeed, all ground is holy ground — if we bring the awareness that the very Earth on which we walk is a manifestation of God and a pathway to intimacy with God.

If you haven’t, please do look at our growing set of photos of people’s feet on the ground — of people engaging in acts of intimacy with Earth, with God, and with each other.

Reflect on the barriers that may exist between yourself and Nature, between yourself and God, even between yourself and your own feet.

Go outside in your bare feet. Stand on the bare earth or on the vegetation that grows there. Wiggle your toes. Dabble them in water. Feel the difference between standing on the living earth and standing on pavement.

Engage in barefoot acts of intimacy.

Ask yourself: Am I family? Am I lover? Am I healer of the Earth?

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Rev. Steve Blackmer

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