He who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet.

The past two days I have been emerging from an intense bout with the flu feeling a renewed burst of energy that I almost don’t know what to do with.  Besides finally doing my laundry and paying my student loan bill (sorry Gordon-Conwell) I have been making phone calls and emails for fund raising (up to 51% and rising), plotting a letter writing campaign to David Kern’s Children’s Literature professor (how hard would it be to let the boy take his exam early so he can go to his friend’s wedding and see all of us who love him?), trying to reintroduce my stomach to its former role of digesting (it seems to still be adverse to this “eating” thing: I think a week and a half of nothing but Sprite has it out of practice), and picking up books that have laid neglected.

The first book I re-picked up was The Inner Voice of Love, by Henri Nouwen.  My housemate Mark gave me this book (technically I bought it myself, but he truly gave me the gift of it) a few months ago and it has been like a direct lifeline between me and God.  It is the private journal of Nouwen, written when he was undergoing an intense personal despair, and it resonates with me as few other books have.  Yes, I have gone fully Bostonian/politically correct/touchy feely, etc. and started using phrases like “resonates with me.”  We all knew it was coming.

The second book I re-picked up was The Brothers Karamazov.  I have been planning on rereading this for eleven years, but saving it as a rare and beautiful treat.  It bowled me over when I read it in my senior Russian Literature course, and I am very excited to be into it again.  It turns out that some friends — Graeme, Aaron and Karen — are reading it as well, so I look forward to good discussions.

The third book — sad that it was not the first, I guess, but that’s what it is — is the Bible, specifically my two favorite passages, Matthew 5-7 and John 13-18.  I have been trying for years to memorize these pieces, but my memory has the habit of lasting only so long as I am daily practicing them.  Still, there is something powerful about reading a passage that you have at least attempted to memorize.  The words are a part of you, so that you feel you are reading not only the Word of God, but your own Word as well.  I love the feel in Matthew that the God of Abraham, Issaac and Jacob, the creator of the universe and the terrifying presence on the mountain with Moses is sitting among his people, speaking his words of love and grace for the first time clearly, without intermediary.  Blessed indeed are those who hear.  And in John I love the raw pain and confusion of the disciples as they struggle to understand where Jesus is going and what he is telling them.  Today I wept again as I read Peter’s plea, “Then, Lord, not only my feet but my hands and my head as well!”  Jesus’ response was a reassurance to me, as well, as I emerge coughing and exhausted from fighting the flu: “He who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet.”  I am not starting from scratch, though it feels like it.  I am on a continuing journey, and it is overseen by One who knows both its beginning and its end.

And so I wash my feet in the Word, and in Nouwen and Dostoevsky, and jump back into the business of life.  Right now my business is fundraising, getting to 70% as quickly as possible so I can get onto campus and start the work I feel called to do.  My business, also, is relationships.  I feel this calling as strongly as any career path.  My old friends, the Greenhaus community, the International students from church, Bagshot Row — these are all my “job” to me as much as InterVarsity.

May the Lord be with you in your business as well.


5 comments on “He who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet.

  1. David Kern says:

    Glad to hear that you are feeling better Jessica. And thanks for wanting to do the letter writing thing. I wish I could be there!

    I shall have to finally get to Karamazov but currently haven’t the time, unfortunately. My dad swears by it.

    btw, snow looks beautiful in Boston!


  2. Kristen says:

    Oh! You’re just starting!

    I guess I can join you then. 🙂


  3. mudlark says:

    Great books! In fact, The Brothers Karamazov was the reason I studied Russian. I wanted to read it in the original language. Haven’t finished it in Russian yet, it’s a lot harder in 19th century Russian! Hope to talk to you soon!


  4. Kristen says:

    Clarification: I will be joining you in translation. I will not be learning Russian.



  5. Pshh, Russian. I plan on translating it from the Russian into Mandarin, and then reading it to orphans in the Chinese wilderness. While simultaneously writing a PhD thesis on the influence of Chinese religions and philosophies on the nineteenth century zeitgeist of the Russian self-image. While simultaneously witnessing to the Buddhist and communist leaders, leading them to Christ and spearheading a new era of democracy and freedom of religion in China.

    Just kidding, I’m reading it in English.


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