Soil and mulch has hopped garden bed and walks up the walkway. The pink broom comes outside with me and her head swivels as if she can smell the garlic breathe alive. We sweep past garlic in purple bloom and the garlic nods a welcome.
I screw the bristled head back into place and sweep this curious pink broom but, "Oh," she swishes against the pavement and the head swivels a loose left because there the basil in terra-cotta pots breathes and its breath smells spicy in morning sun. I pinch off a leaf and chew it just because it's there. I screw the bristled head righty-tighty into place again and sweep the welcome mat.
A glass pitcher rests between the basil and the welcome mat. It's filled with water from the garden hose and the sun catches glass and water till light splashes with joyful abundance and I pour abundance over life all basil. It grows like this at the welcome mat and this summer I haven't once screwed off the lid on the jar of basil in the pantry. Instead, I've pinched, watered and washed basil leaves, carried the fragrance over the welcome mat and the scent just always breaks open full abundance when minced on the wood cutting board.
It's abundance on the wood, I think to God and myself. And it bleeds fragrance there. With the blade of the mincing knife, I push the abundance into the pot of olive oil and minced garlic and is there anything richer than fresh basil and garlic minced into oil extracted from the olive which is the same oil that lights lamps in this lacking world?
I drizzle the pasta, starch of life, with this fragrant abundance of life I that washed carried over the welcome mat. And just like that, abundance oh so fragrant rich supplies the flavor plain pasta lacks.
His abundance supplies our lack. My lack. He was rich, yet for my sake He became poor.
"For my sake?" I cannot begin to know the extent of what this means. I only know it as I see it; as I read it again and again on pages of Holy writ. I only know that I can't see the whole of His abundance, or of my lack, but that I can believe and hope it is as He says.
"You say," I repeat what He says back to Him because I need to hear it out loud, "that Your abundance supplies my lack; that You were rich beyond what I can fathom and became poor with a poverty I cannot comprehend. And You did this for my sake?"
"And Mine," He adds.
"And Yours." This stirs me because the abundance that is mine isn't supplied by the blood of sacrificial lambs offered annually, but by the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb offered once lest He would have had to suffer as often as sin has been committed since from the beginning of time.
And I gain remembrance of not my poverty, not my lack, but of my Savior. And isn't this remembrance a portion of the grace of the diligence of Christ?
The empty tomb profoundly lacks when sin's diligence is destroyed because Christ's diligence to do what He had in mind to do, and that to "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself," is profoundly abundant. (Hebrews 9:26).
"You had it in mind to put away sin by the sacrifice of Yourself; and You did it," I worship at His feet, aware that mine are soiled but also remembering that He's washed the sole of my soul and here I take the eucharist to heart.
"This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me," He says the ancient words to me and they never come up lacking. Then, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (John 22:19-20). He spoke so to His disciples at table.
Then He washed their feet.
So was He born in a poor man's stable? That's how I picture it. And was there a donkey in the stable? I only wonder because a donkey low was a poor man's beast of burden and transport; and a donkey would transport Jesus.
The Lamb rode a donkey. The thought comes and takes my breath. Swivels my soul. The clean and spotless lamb rode the back of the unclean.
Some called, "Hosanna in the highest" and laid down palm branches, symbols of strength, for Him to be transported over. Others laid down their cloaks, symbols of what covers nakedness.
If I give palm and cloak, they are as dirty rags under the feet of unclean donkey. I'm putting some things together. What if, I remember my pastor's sermon, I return to Christ what I have received from Him? Returning is different than giving. What increased abundance do I have when I lay down the palm and cloak as rags and return to Him what is His? Abundant life, me thinks.
He knows my thoughts and, "If you return to Me what you have received from Me, all is redeemed."
Ah! The Lamb rode a donkey! The Lamb redeems, makes worthy, the humbled, burdened and unclean. My thoughts kind of plow like this.
Love is transported by humility to redeem the unclean. I put it together.
Humility increases as love washes the feet of humility and then finds its transport by those feet. Maybe it's something like that.
"Humility is as welcome mat for love to be transported over." This is how I hear it and I cheer softly,
"It's an abundance!"
The Lamb Rode a Donkey
The way I see it, the road to the holy city was littered with palm branches and clothing and, "This is what the narrow road to the pearly gates must look like. Littered with strength laid down and with cloaks of self to cover more self; masks, attitudes, props, till the "have's" and the "have not's" are equal."
Few lay down their strength; few lay down what cloaks the soul. Fewer still lay palm and cloak down for the Burden Bearer riding the burden bearer. The way is narrow.
What if I broke off timidity and peeled off the strength of my flesh and the cloak of my soul for love and love alone because the beautiful burden of Love is carried on the back of humility?
Wasn't Love stripped of His strength?
Wasn't a foreigner in the land by the name of Simon of Cyrene called on to carry the burden of the cross on his back? And isn't that what it means to be a stranger in a strange land, a foreigner of this world, called to carry the beautiful burden of love to the world?
Wasn't the thready robe that clothed Christ's sinewey flesh bartered for while He gave up the Ghost?
Wasn't Love bared naked except for a cloth covering the loins of Love because the Father of Love will keep sacred the seed of Love?
Seems humility shoulders love, and love's always got the back of humility. "It will hurt," Love promises rugged, "but I've got your back."
Humility responds, "I lay down all palm and cloak for You alone;" for love is transported humbly like that.
"Lord?" I've got a question. "How do I lay down my life for the sakes of others without enabling them to use me up?" I want to be humble transport for Love, but not a doormat.
"I washed their feet; and became a welcome mat." His answer spurs another question.
"What's the difference?" I ask, but the answer comes before I get the question all the way out. "Oh," I'm getting it, "a door mat isn't the same as a welcome mat."
"Couldn't this Man who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" I read it in John 11:37 and recognize the speech. It's spoken, "I believe that God can, but will He?" I've heard it because I've said it. And now I wonder where the likes of me is looking when I speak so. Am I looking, really looking, at the One I'm talking to? Or am I talking to Him, but focusing on me? I know what that feels like. It feels like manipulation.
Well, it was said at Lazarus' grave site. I wonder, How many there noticed that Jesus was weeping? Groaning in Himself? How many were really looking at Him?
Was He weeping and groaning inwardly because He was attending a type of what the Father would command on His behalf, and ours? Wrenching, I'm sure, to witness a foreshadow of those who would mourn for Him; of the stone that would roll away from the mouth of His borrowed grave, of the coming resurrection. Maybe He wept and groaned because this was hitting real close to home.
People were wiping their feet on Him, and it scraped out "You should not go where Lazarus lays because, if You recall, the Jews there have been trying to stone You." The disciples pulled their feet back like that. And then Mary and Martha scuffed, "Lord, if You had been here, then our brother wouldn't have died.
What exactly did they, have I, tried to wipe off the bottoms of our sandal shod souls? Fear? Misjudgement? Flesh mire?
What if they, if I, entered the work of Jesus as He entered His work? Isn't humility the entrance of His work? Hasn't love always been carried, cradled, transported, and delivered by humility? Isn't humility the only transport and support for God-ward love? What if they, if I, laid my frondy strength and the garments my soul would wear, down to welcome the Lord?
Some door mats say, "Welcome" on them. Others are stiff as bristle. Bristle at humility and bristle at Jesus. Bristle, "Don't go at this time," as the disciples did, or "Why didn't You come sooner," as Mary and Martha did and, yeah, the feet wipe back and forth as sandal-shod souls would scrape against Jesus and I can hear the rough swish-wipe.
I know what it sounds like. My own soul has wiped its feet like that, as if Jesus were door mat, and then this soul of mine declines His invitation, "Welcome," and somehow doesn't see the bowl of water and towel He's holding.
He Washed Their Feet
Well, Jesus is welcome mat who washed feet gently.
May I be that kind of mat! Not doormat. Not bristle stiff. But welcome mat and soft wash towel. May I welcome those who will let me wash their feet.
The disciples let Him wash their feet, once they understood. And they've passed that understanding on to me. It's written. Explained. Demonstrated. Mary and Martha, and many of the Jews who had come to their side in their mourning believed in Jesus. For He casts nothing but the glory of God to those who believed. "Father," He said almost apologetically, "I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always Hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by, I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." I can hear Love speak past the lump in His throat and speak love through tear dampened lips to the One whose will He came to do.
Love piggy-backs humility.
There were those who would cast stones to kill Him, but He rolled stone away to bring forth life.
There were those who would have bound Him in grave clothes, but He commanded, "Loose Lazarus."
There were those who would have kept Him dead and bound up behind grave stone, but He commanded, "Roll the stone away! Loose Lazarus!" I'm sure Lazarus went straight into Jesus' arms.
I guess a welcome mat must wait to receive those who want to be welcomed. And an impatient welcome mat whose heart aches so much for those it longs to welcome with a bowl of cool soapy water and soft wash towel may bargain, but will be rubbed the wrong way in the bargain till the water to wash the feet is spilt on the mat and the towel dirtied; and the bargainer bristles kind of pink and stiff in the spine because it's not possible to sweep up offering that's spilt because it's not wanted.
I want to be a patient welcome. "Help me wait till the one I long to welcome, whose feet I long to gently wash, wants to be welcomed and washed," I pray. It's hard, even feels negligent sometimes, to wait like that.
I have bowls in my kitchen. One aluminum, four glass, one purple ceramic. I also have soft wash towels in the linen closet. "It's silly, Lord." I do feel a tad silly, but I'm fixin' to fill my large aluminum mixing bowl with water from the garden hose.
I find the wash towel, the white one, while hose water groans through the pipes. It's cantankerous and we've fought at the spigot. I sicked a wrench on it some time back, so now it turns on and off without spitting, but we still have water fights. I turn the spigot off. It sprays me and gets the last word, but my bowl is full.
I carry it sloshy to front door and place it beside the "Welcome" stamped across the cheerful red and yellow flower on the mat there. A wind chime sings from the shepherd's hook at the entrance, and I drape wash towel there.
I admire my soul work at the welcome mat and, "Oh! I need a bar of soap!"
I place honeysuckle essential oil soap, gift from son and daughter-in-law who know how to welcome the rough worn, on wooden green painted step ladder too rickety old to be more than decoration. It stands on all fours, legs "v'd" and the second step supports a bar of honeysuckle soap.
I'm a wanna-be,getting-there welcome mat. But I still bristle stiff when I'd rather smell like honeysuckle. "How do I do this this, Lord?"
"Spend time with Me." He's all welcome mat.
I sit with Him in the morning sun, and my leather bound Bible sticks hot to my bare legs. I dangle my own mired feet in cool pool water.
He washes my feet till my soul smells like honeysuckle.
written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth Roehrig