My sweet mama is a widow. Actually, technically they were divorced, she and my dad, when he passed away, so I’m not sure what that’s called. I guess we’ll call her human.
Anyway, I’ve told you about my mom more than once over the years. She had my brother very young, and knew right away she was going to need help raising her children. She had grown up in the church, and thought that might be a good place to find help.
In the midst of going to church for help with her children, she found Jesus. She’d known of him previously, but he became real and personal to her in a way he hadn’t been before. For years and years, Mom took us to church - alone. My dad never attended.
She didn’t complain about it. I never heard her yell at him about not going to church. On occasion, he’d ask us what we learned on a particular Sunday, and she’d say, “You should go yourself and find out.” That’s the furthest any conversation about church went to my knowledge. As it is in most families, some things are just the way they are, and you don’t question it.
Long after her three kids had grown up and left home, Mom continued going to church by herself. She’s found a few single ladies along the way to spend time with, but for the most part she socializes with groups of women, when they do something without their men.
My mom has a good sense of leadership, and a few years back, she stepped into the role of women’s ministry coordinator at her church. I was so proud of her, and knew the church had made a fine selection.
This year, on Good Friday, my mom’s church set up a Stations of the Cross event. These stations take people through the various stages Christ encountered on his Crucifixion journey. For example, there’s a station where we learn about Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus carry his cross. Also a station where his mother sees his body, beaten and bloody.
The church set up each station in an individual room, with a brief description about what occurred at that station, and a set of instructions for the participants to do something specific as a family - pray, read a passage of verses, etc.
As a family. There’s my mom, going room to room, alone. A family of one. A widow, or something like that.
Now, it’s not the church’s fault. It’s what we do. I have a husband and a daughter who attend church with me, and I want to share our faith experiences together. As a family. However, because of my mom, I never forget the widows. The orphans. The alone ones who are lonely.
So on this particular day, Mom’s feeling a little out of place, but she’s used to it. She enters each room and sits quietly, doing the activity on her own. One station talks about the woman who washed Jesus’ feet. At this station, family members were supposed to wash one another’s feet. Awkward.
Suddenly (this is the part where you should know God is getting ready to act), she looks around the room and notices a young boy with his family. He saw Mom sit down by herself. With a huge smile, he said,
I’ll wash your feet!
He reached down into the basin of water, and scooped up a fistful of the liquid. He motioned for her to take her sandals off, one at a time, and place each foot on the towel in front of the bowl. Gently, making a few splashes - because, young boy - he poured water on her feet. He scrubbed them; first the left, then the right. Finally, he dried them with a towel.
Throughout the afternoon, she saw the young man at various stations. Each time, he’d wave and ask her if she was enjoying this event. I wonder, will she ever see him again - this little one who washed the feet of a stranger? Sometimes we show hospitality to angels unaware; other times they shower hospitality on us.