I have many “loves” in my life. Persons, places, coffee, and sharing a good news word with others rank at the top of my “love list.” It’s no surprise that I spend a good portion of my week in the community drinking coffee, sharing stories, and talking about love.
Love takes many forms and can be articulated in a variety of ways. There are things we love to do, places we would love to visit, and persons we love sharing a life-giving moment with. Conversations about love take us to the heights of human experience. Conversations about love can also take us to the depths of human experience.
On Tuesday nights in a local coffeehouse we engage in the risky business of talking about love. A few weeks ago, seven of us read aloud the words of John 13. We heard about the heights of the new intimate relationship with God that Jesus offered through the gift of his life in love. We also heard about the depths of rejecting this gift of love. And in our hearing we wrestled. Why do we reject that which we desire? Why does intimacy make us uncomfortable? Why do we not place ourselves completely or fully in the hands of God, who is perfect love? Why are Peter’s protests our protests? How is Judas’ betrayal our betrayal?
Talking about love is risky business, especially in a public space like a community coffeehouse. The Incarnate Word beckons one to boldness when he tells us “you also should wash one another’s feet.”
So right there in the coffee shop, I took the washbasin out and set it in the middle of the floor. The faces around me reflected immediate concern – for my sanity, their safety, or both. I asked for a volunteer. After several minutes of awkward laughter and looks, a brave soul slipped her feet out of her sandals. I poured water in the basin, sat down on the floor, and intentionally touched her feet with my hands before beginning to wash. The intimacy of that touch was more than we both anticipated. As I slowly washed her feet, we talked about what that night many centuries ago might have been like for the disciples as observer and participant. We all agreed that it would have been – and still is – a challenge to receive such an intimate act of love.
Lord help us to see the beauty that is around us; beauty that is more than our eyes can bear, the precious things that have been put into our hands. And with such God-infused vision, grant us the courage to be generous in love.
The Rev. Cindy Bolden leads Coffeehouse Conversations, a Fresh Expression of Westwood Baptist Church in Cary, NC.