1. Blottner, Christina Pacileo

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IT HAD BEEN a long and emotional day in the Burn Center. I left the hospital just in time to pick up my 6-year-old daughter for mass. It was Holy Thursday and as Roman Catholics, we celebrate Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet after the Last Supper. My husband and I felt our daughter understood the meaning of this ritual that intimately invites us into servanthood and was ready to participate in it.


On the drive to church, we quietly discussed the ritual she was about to experience. There were few questions, and she seemed to intuitively understand the celebration. We solemnly held hands as we entered the darkened church. When the time came for the washing of feet, parishioners diligently went about their work, and a welcome peaceful silence fell about the sanctuary.


I stood in line behind my beloved daughter as we waited for our chance, our opportunity to minister to our fellow parishioners. She moved cautiously and deliberately toward the seated stranger. I helped her lift the heavy pitcher above the basin, and she poured clean clear water over the stranger's feet in graceful humility. My eyes welled with tears, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wept.


We do not choose when or where the spirit touches our soul. The images of my daughter washing a stranger's feet I will remember forever. As we filed around to our pew, my mind was flooded with images from earlier that morning.


The night before, a different stranger washed a child's feet, not in peace, but in violence as he immersed the toddler's feet in scalding water. When I had arrived at the hospital that morning, the nurse caring for this child had asked for assistance in the debridement of her feet. As I washed the tender feet of this littlest stranger, I silently prayed for the ability to comfort and console. I prayed that we all would be given capacity for understanding and forgiveness.


As nurses, we have our science, our technology, our complex understanding of human responses. Yet each day, we humbly wash the stranger's feet. Let us always remember our mission to comfort, to console, to heal.


"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord', and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:14-15, NIV