Notebook

Feet

The Sacred Triduum displays the unfathomable mystery of God’s personal, unique love for each of us. To believe in the possibility of such love, we need to practise it and discern the face, the name, the soul of men and women who can easily seem featureless, obliterated by a fog of prejudice. Someone who practises this art of humanity, and bears witness to it, is Katja Oskamp, whose Marzahn, mon amour: Confessions of a Chiropodist (now available in English translation) is a wonderful book. Oskamp speaks of the vulnerability and shame people feel on revealing their feet to another: ‘Whether they’re labourers from a building site or vain fellows covered in tattoos, whether they’re pregnant or old ladies, spiritual low-flyers or academics, all apologise, the first time they remove socks and shoes, for their feet.’ Her observation sheds light on the significance of the foot washing in the Upper Room, which we enact liturgically, as if for the first time, each Maundy Thursday.