Of Football, Maps, Mourning, Mom, and Foot Washing

Of Football, Maps, Mourning, Mom, and Foot Washing April 18, 2014
Re Contributor



Robert saw me bending over to pick up a discarded coffee cup at Manna House this morning.

“Not so easy getting down low anymore is it?” he asked.
“Some days are better than others.  But on all days I’m not nearly as flexible as I used to be.”
“Me neither.  I was in the hospital most of yesterday with back spasms.”
“Sorry to hear that Robert.  That’s painful.”
“Years of cement work on top of high school football.  I’m paying the price.”
“Where did you play?”
“Orange Mound, Melrose.  I was a halfback.  Fast and strong.  They could count on me.”
John likes maps.  He always carries a few with him.  He likes to peruse them while he drinks his coffee at Manna House.  He had heard that I was up in Minnesota this past weekend, so he was curious about where in Minnesota I had been.  When I told him “Rochester,” he wanted to know which county.  “Olmsted.”  Then the conversation really took off.

“Is that in the southeastern corner of Minnesota?”
“Yes, about an hour or so southeast of the Twin Cities.”
“Not far from Iowa?”
“About an hour or so.”
“You know those northern counties of Iowa?”
“Not really.”
“Winnebago.  Worth. Mitchell. Howard. Winneshiek.  Allamahee.”
“I really don’t know those counties, John.”
“I study maps.  I just like knowing where things are.”
When I got home, I checked up on the list (which I had written down).  Sure enough, those counties go right across northern Iowa.
We started the day with sad news.  “Dusty” also known as “Charles” has died. Dusty was a regular guest at Manna House for many years.  When he first started coming he was on crutches.  He only had one leg.  He went everywhere on those crutches, and he went through lots of those rubber tips at the bottom of the crutches.  We’d buy them and just keep on replacing the tips.  June Averyt started working with him and tried to get him into housing.  He’d been on the streets so long he didn’t feel comfortable inside.  So, she agreed that he could stay in a tent in the backyard of where she had housed other folks.  Dusty eventually lost his other leg and so he got around on a motorized wheelchair.  This happened about the same time that he was able to get himself to move into a place to live.  He was still a regular in the neighborhood.  He was well liked.   Along with our guests we took news of his death hard.
Another guest had additional mourning today.  He mother died yesterday of cancer. He’s now an orphan.  One of thirteen children, Keith is more or less in the middle he said.  Nine are still alive.  The funeral is tomorrow, and Saturday morning she will be laid to rest.  “I have to stay strong for the rest of t
he family.  They’re taking it pretty hard.  I knew it was coming.  I’ve been going to see her in the hospital and so I’m at peace.”
Every third Thursday, Camille and Ashley head up the Foot Washing and Foot Clinic at Manna House.  Guests sign up in advance for this evening, which includes a meal.  Tonight’s Foot Washing and Clinic happened to fall on Holy Thursday when many Christian churches commemorate the Last Supper, including in John’s Gospel, where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, telling them, “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set an example for you, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-14).

Eight guests had their feet washed by four volunteers, enjoyed a meal prepared and served by two more volunteers, then saw a foot doctor, and in turn were fitted with gently used shoes courtesy of Fleet Feet.  It was a good liturgy.

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