A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Here's an attractive fountain at le Mont St.-Michel with an interesting sign above it. "Lavage des pieds interdit" is French for "Foot washing prohibited." All I can say is, shame on them.

Whoever is responsible for the sign, that is. Not the scurvy footwashers.

In Luke 10:3 Jesus exhorts his disciples when sending them out to preach his word, "Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way." Many Christians have taken this command quite literally, going barefoot to show both obedience to Christ and complete reliance on Providence.

St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Teresa, St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier...barefoot. Count Leo Tolstoy...barefoot. George Fox and other early Quakers...barefoot. And a great number of pilgrims over millenia...barefoot.

As going without shoes shows obedience to and trust in the Lord, washing the feet of others shows humility. Mary Magdalen washed the feet of Jesus; Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

Le Mont St.-Michel has been one of the great destinations for pilgrims since the Middle Ages. Still is. Undoubtedly a few continue to make at least the final steps of their pilgrimage pieds nus. But may they wash the dust of the journey from their feet? Or perform a penance by washing the feet of others? Not in this fountain!

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