Last year I felt stagnant—in relationships, in my studies, and with God.To spur some sort of change in my life, I decided to immerse myself in a different community and a different lifestyle. I wanted to live with people who would challenge my faith and the comfortable life I live. I wanted to serve, to completely break from my normal routine and just focus on serving others, looking for the face of God in those around me. I was lucky enough to find a home where this transformation was not only possible, but unavoidable.
I spent my summer living at the Open Door Community in Atlanta, Georgia. The Open Door is an intentional community that, for the past 30 years, has housed between 15 and 30 people, a combination of long-term volunteers and people coming from the street or from prison. The mission of the community is to “stand in solidarity with the disinherited” by offering soup kitchens, showers, clean clothes, a medical clinic, a foot clinic, a women’s clinic, a prison ministry worship and a community meal every Sunday.
Perhaps one of my most surprising experiences this summer was working in the foot clinic.
I am not a foot person, so when I learned about the foot clinic I assumed it would not be my cup of tea. But for some reason, I changed my mind after the first week. From then on I spent my Wednesday nights soaking, scrubbing, filing, clipping, moisturizing, powdering, de-fungusing and dressing feet and nails.
It was disgusting, yet I somehow loved it. I loved it because it felt like one small thing I could do for our friends from the street. It is so easy to forget what a luxury it is to have good shoes and, perhaps more importantly, a place where we can take off those shoes. In our homes we know the floors are clean, we know no one is going to hassle us to leave before we can get our shoes back on, and we know our shoes will be right where we left them when we want to put them on again.
If nothing else, each Wednesday night in the foot clinic I found myself taking one small step toward bridging the gap between the rich and the poor—there is nothing like having someone’s stinky foot shoved in your face to remind you that they, too, are human.