Lent: Water of cleansingby Anna Goodworth, WOV Hartford, CT
There are certain times in life when you know that you are truly a mother. Though it can be glimpsed in sweet snuggle times or heard when a mother prays for her child, I think it is in that unglorifying dirty work that we actually become a mother through and through. I was reminded of this recently when my daughter was up in the middle of the night with the dreaded stomach flu. At the moment of horrific vomit, I did not jump out of the way (like sane people do), I simply put out my hands to catch the mass digestion and be closer to my child. Then we were off to the sink, bath, and laundry. No badges needed to tell me I’m a mom. I have the bloodshot eyes to prove it.
Believe it or not, it was in the middle of the night (when I waited to see if there would be another vomiting episode upon us) that my thoughts turned upon other mothers.
There are other mothers in this world that also need no badge. However, in the midst of these inevitable disgusting moments in parenting (and likely actually increased in developing countries), they do not have the simple water (let alone soap) to clean up after. They remain unclean.
Think of it. I wanted to drench myself in Lysol after that night. I could have slept in the shower and still not felt clean after a touch of the stomach bug, but other places in the world – they can’t even clean it up! Diarrhea. Menstral Periods. Vomit. NONE OF IT. Every ounce of cleaning these things costs time and effort in walking. Even after the walking, there isn’t even enough to do the job right. Even if there is enough to do the job, that water brings its own rounds of diarrhea. This is absolute craziness.
So, what do these gross descriptions have to do with Lent? What does this have to do with Jesus? Let’s just consider a few passages:
The Jewish Law required that lepers yell “unclean” wherever they went, making them not only disased physically, but diseased in relationship.
“And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.” Mark 1:30-32
Similarly, the bleeding woman remained unclean until Jesus healed her with one touch.
“For she said, ‘If I can just touch His robes, I’ll be made well!’ Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was cured of her affliction.” Matthew 5:28-29
How little we know about the impact of being unclean in the settings of other countries, yet we see that Jesus loved to make people clean, in body and in soul. I personally knew that dirty water stole health and time (thus education) and safety. That alone was enough to make water a big issue of advocacy in our family. However, just recently, I had thought of this idea of feeling dirty versus feeling clean in regards to those without clean water.
“Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:2
Lent is a reminder of the journey to the cross. It is yearning of our hearts to be made clean. Everyone in this world wants to be clean. We can offer that – in more ways than one. We actually have the power to offer the things that clean both the body and the soul. What a glorifying gift to offer God this season. What a gift to that mom on the other side of the world that is just like me in so many ways. No badge needed.
“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. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:17