The basin is placed under my foot, and taking the pitcher in his right hand he pours the water. I choose my right foot. The water is pleasant, warm, not at all startling. He dries my foot by wrapping it first with the towel, then gently patting it, absorbing the water. I put my shoe back on and return to my seat.
God speaks to me about washing someone's feet, someone I know. I wonder what he means and ask him to show me how. I don't understand. It seems horribly awkward. Kind of like watching as my priest chose to kneel before me, an uncomfortable position to maintain, an even harder position to get up from.
In the car on the ride back from Florida I become part of a scene in my mind, one I know I must write. A difficult and painful story, maybe mine.
I'm lying in the dirt, dust filling my nostrils as I attempt to breathe. There's not much life left in me.
I've been caught, pronounced guilty, thrown into this dirt to be mocked and ridiculed. They spit at me, laughing and jeering.
I curl up into a ball and for a minute I dream of being submerged again in water, the water of my mother's womb, the only safe place I've known since conception. But I don't deserve water, that's what they all tell me- I deserve death.
I believe them.
The sun is high in the sky, blazing hot, burning my skin. I long for water. I long for shade.
I wonder how I got here. I'm ashamed of believing I'd found love.
They are ready to hurl their rocks, anxious even. Time to silence the sinner.
I barely whisper "mercy."
Two weeks before my actual due date I feel it is necessary to clean my bathtub. I am down on my knees, heavy with child, reaching to the walls of the tub, scrubbing, scrubbing, removing the dirt. When I stand up I notice something odd, a leaking down below. I take a couple steps, thinking I might be imagining it, but no, there it is again.
About 20 hours later I sit holding my son, my first born, Dale.
I am at the edge of the pool, excited about jumping into the deep end for the first time. I know I'm ready. I step off, going down, reaching the bottom, pushing off to make my way back to the surface.
The water feels like silk. And when I get to the surface and swim to the side easily I smile. I am part fish, just like I imagined! I fall in love for the first time- with water- and I go back again and again to jump.
The three ducks approach me as I sit at a table beside the water, the Gulf of Mexico. They are looking for food, but I have nothing to give. It is two males and a female and as the males move quickly away I see the female hobbling, desperately trying to keep up.
But she can't. I see she is missing some of the webbing on her right foot, and it appears her leg is broken too. Tears begin to flow down my cheeks as I watch her struggle. I know her pain. A lady comes out with food, tells me the female has laid eggs and manages to sit on the nest each day.
She also tells me how much the duck loves water. I nod.
The Mommy duck has one other means to move, and when I see it my tears cease. I had forgotten God has also given her wings.
Watching her fly gives me pure joy.
So sure of death I notice the crowd becomes silent. Someone is writing in the sand, using his finger. He commands their attention. I can't bear to look.
He stands over me, giving me shade. Then he kneels down, grabs my hand, pulls me up. I see his face, I hear his voice. And without one drop of water I feel clean.