On May 11, there was a foot care clinic at Trinity Episcopal food pantry. Deaconess Nurse Ministry participated, along with two other Episcopal churches and The T (Dr. Punch and her crew). The idea of the foot care was to provide a space where those who are homeless could receive the loving touch of care to their feet. Many who came were in great need of nail trimming and lotion application for dry skin. As a team, we worked to provide the loving care that each person needed.
As I worked with the folks, I was reminded that the feet are often one of the last places that anyone touches. However, that day each person came seeking to have their feet touched. Willingly each person took off their shoes, had their feet soaked, nails trimmed and feet massaged with lotion by caring hands that had gathered to do the work.
But more than the loving touch care that was provided, there was the listening caring hearts that paid attention to stories being told. Stories about how much walking those feet experienced, living in the city, living in Forest Park. Tales about how working for American/TWA airlines meant seeing the world as a younger adult. Tearful expressions of loss of those who have died in the past two years and profoundly missed. Life stories poured out as the healing balm of lotion was applied.
I realized as I was listening to these precious stories of life, and massaging feet with care, the person relaxed. I could visibly see eyes close and deep breaths being taken. Often the person would say, “that feels so good and I have never had anyone give me a foot rub”. I realized that listening and touch offered a moment of healing care.
When I finished the foot massage, I placed new socks on the person. It was as if at that moment they experienced a newness. They walked a little taller and straighter than when they first came. New shoes were given, and they left with a spring in their step, at least for a brief moment.
As I was participating that day, I was reminded of Mary who washed Jesus’ feet. It was a loving act of grace. One of the women who came for foot care said, “ I remember the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet and that is what you are doing today.” Practical acts of care given to not only the person who receives it but those who give it. I was touched by the stories and the resilience I found in those who came. I walked away in new shoes of understanding of what it means to care and listen to those who are our neighbors.
The Deaconess Nurse Ministry hopes in the days ahead to do more foot clinics with those who come to food pantries and soup kitchens. We hope you join us in our work of healing grace as we do.