The riverwalk, today, was a riverslosh. As water leaked through my 35-year-old LL Bean boots, I couldn't help imagining my soggy walk as a prelude to tonight's footwashing liturgy. I'd spent the morning setting out bowls and towels, as well as removing the tarp from the organ and the towels from the sacristy sideboard that had been set out to catch invading rain.
The errant river, receding, has left a debris field of the usual styrofoam coffee cups and plastic drinks bottles, reminding us of the reciprocity it mandates, the mutual servanthood -- that we not sully it with our leavings, the effluvia of our unquenchable desires.
This is no paradise, no gilded age. My self-portrait is in a flatbed's hubcap; behind me, in verso, the dirty river thunders. I enter the Triduum unprepared, a slate scoured blank by Lent, Leonard Cohen's cold and broken Hallelujahs sounding in my mind's ear like rusty windchimes in a gale. I shall see what I shall see, hear what I shall hear. It's like going for a walk with my camera: I am all eye. And silence.
Liturgy is word and act; it is embodied and relational. You have to take off your old boots and get your feet wet. You have to touch each other.
From the outside it might look strange, disturbing, barely comprehensible, even risible, like a word stripped of its meaning, an absurd and contingent grunt. And, let's face it, from the inside it's also a little odd -- the bread, the wine, the stained glass, the ranks of organ pipes. The God-Man crucified; the God-Man resurrected.
But what about being-here-at-all isn't odd ? And that's the terrifying, sorrowful, agonizing crux and heart of the matter, isn't it.
What better place to begin than with a naked foot ?