To Be Seen.

Today I met a man named Gus, Gus had a light in his eyes and blue coat and ratty white hat, he was standing beside the Conoco barely making eye contact with anyone but expectantly watching every car that drove into the parking lot.

He was the guy that people see walking up to them and instantly get defensive, hide that last bit of cash they have in their pockets, avoid eye contact, make a quick shuffle back into their car. They guy in the parking lot that no one truly treats like a guy at all.

And there he was walking up to me as I started to pump my gas, and I was no exception I ducked my head in my car hoping he would pass by. Then I heard,

“Excuse me miss, sorry to bother you.”

So I spun around and met him with full eye contact, finding a man with the tiniest shimmer in his sad eyes, his eyes that said he would rather be doing anything than standing in that parking lot asking me for a few dollars.

He told me that he was staying in a motel, (which are strung every few feet around this part of East Colfax, a motel every block full of strung out junkies, children, dogs, people trying to get on their feet, and even a few hookers. He stated he was staying at one of these motels, with his 8 year old twin daughter, daughters that don’t but could have easily gone to my school.

He told me about his ex wife, and how they are all crammed in the one hotel room, he told me about the hotel with cheaper rooms down the street but that he didnt want to move his daughters again, and through all of this yes.. he asked me for money.

I didn’t give him any, mostly because I didn’t have any. But I did spend more time than the other people around talking to him, I did look him in the eye and learn his name. I did ask about his daughters and talk about the difficulty of getting to school everyday. I did take the time to see him.

And as he walked away I told him, “I am sorry Gus I hope you get the money for the room.” He simply looked over his shoulder and said, “We will.” I laughed and said, “Hopeful.” He simply replied, “Always.”

This man who has so much more to deal with and so much less to deal with it with than I do, this man that walks his daughter to school from the motel and then goes to his part time job that doesn’t pay them enough money to eat and sleep in the motel every night so they have to choose one or the other. This man was Alway’s hopeful.

This reminded me that even if I can’t give everyone money, and I wouldn’t want and can grant them the simple act of being seen. Just to make eye contact and remind them that they are truly human and worthy of my time, we so often seem to step on and over these people, assuming that they are lower than we are for the circumstances in their life.

Gus helped me commit myself to seeing more people not just looking at them but truly seeing them.

❤ Kelsi Rae

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My Maundy Thursday

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So let’s just being by saying that before two days ago I had never heard of Maundy Thursday, ok thats not true I heard about it when we started going to Bloom last year but I heard foot washing and I was out.

I almost did the same thing this year, I thought I don’t know what the point of this service is and I really don’t want someone to wash my feet, but then I somehow ended up getting in the car and heading to church at 7pm on a Thursday for a mystery service on the Jewish Passover. Three of us were in the car on the way, counting the days till the Resurrection, going well, no Jesus would have still been alive, wait when was the last supper, he was crucified on Good Friday right, well this must be the last supper.. .yes that must be why we are having soup. ( Yes we had to do the math to figure out the importance of Maundy Thursday, don’t shun us from all of Christianity)

So now that we sort of kind of understood what we were going to we headed into church, down the stairs into our basement space that always feels just a little bit melancholy as you descend the stairs and entered into a room full of community and the wonderful smell of soup, ok maybe I can handle this.

We moved smoothly through the worship and soup portion of the evening, at this point I was thinking we could have Maundy Thursday every week but as Andrew ( our pastor) stood up to begin speaking I knew we were moving into the uncomfortable space, the space where Jesus knowing he was about to be betrayed moving towards his death and resurrection accepted the failings of his disciples and moved into the light into Good Friday to save us all.

But before he could do this he performed two great acts of love for his disciples he broke the bread, and poured out the wine, and he washed their feet, he knelt before them and took on the stature of a servant in order to wash their feet.

So why does this simple act feel like I just walked into the wall, like I cannot wrap my mind around the sacrament associated with this act. So I sat there listening to Andrew speak thinking, you cannot force me to do this. But then he started to speak about why this is so awkward for us, what is happening when someone, often someone that we are not intimately close to washes a part of our body that we often consider ultimately dirty.

I heard him say when Jesus washed their feet he was completely accepting the brokenness of the humans around him, he understood their betrayal and accepted it, and as he did this he gave the new commandment, the commandment of Love. And that in this moment thousands of years after his death, how is that love touching the world?  Will our outpouring of love touch the world? In what ways do we accept the brokenness of the world around us and pour love into it, I hope that I can find the brokenness and instead of turning a blind eye or searching for “an eye for an eye” I can pour love into the places that need it the most.

And if this is what my church is showing me by washing my feet, that they see my brokenness and are going to pour their love into me through this act then if i am going to be a woman that believes in this commandment of love than how can I refuse this, so I stood up and allowed a man I have only seen from the back of the church seat to place his hands on my feet and wash them clean of the despair and brokenness that I try to hide from the light.

In that moment I looked up and I could see the wonderful man I will soon call my husband also getting his feet washed across the way and I felt a wholeness a sense of belonging and community that is often missing from church for me, where I feel alone and ignorant in the ways of the church, but on this night we were all one community partaking in soup, laughter, love and the semblance of a last supper filled with Paleo friendly chili, and gluten free, dairy free, organic, flavorful spinach and kale soup

I stood from the wash station and stood in a line of barefoot 20 somethings that attend Bloom, dressed in plaid shirts, covered in beards, dreads and as many hipsters glasses as we could find where we were all just searching for something, something we cannot find at the many craft breweries we frequent before church, something that has drawn us all here to this melancholy basement  filled with dozens of tea light candles, and a small table filled with boxed wine and gluten free bread ( have I said we are mostly 20 something hipsters yet?) Here we are drawn to this table, to the love of a man that would have knelt before us, and washed our feet before he poured himself out for us in the greatest act of love.

How can I pour myself out, how can ensure that my love touches the world, in what ways can I heal someones brokenness, how can I wash your feet?

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❤ Kelsi Rae