I keep this Cassatt print in my Bible. It is an image that comes to mind often, in especially demanding moments and at the end of a long day. Before I had children, I wondered why she had chosen to draw the visual comparison of a mother and child to the Biblical imagery of Christ washing his disciples feet. Didn't it seem a bit presumptuous? A bit martyr-like?
And then I became a mom. The spiritual applications I could draw from this painting are endless.
I had never washed feet before. Now I do, daily. And as I bathe these dirty beautiful little bodies I think of this image, of Christ washing our feet because of how very much He loves us. Before I had children, I never had imagined that I was capable of loving someone so fiercly, so unconditionally. Then I thought my heart would explode after I had my first child for all of the love that was suddenly crammed in there. And I bathe my little girls and marvel that I am even capable of feeling this love, of giving love; that there must be this wild, infinitely tender, outrageous LOVE out there that I can only barely imagine but that it must compare somehow to the way I feel as a mom.
So then Christ tells us now to wash one another's feet and I can't help but think, ick. Baby feet, you kiss them and play with them and sing little songs to them. Grown-up feet? Just gross. Then this painting comes to my mind again, for the other startling discovery that having children has given me: everybody was somebody's baby. Every mean nasty person, someone's child. Every judgmental, egotistical, self-pitying person? A baby once. Every person who I find difficult to love, was kissed and cooed to and bounced by some mother who adored him every bit as much as I adore my babies. Or maybe they weren't. And there's another reason why he is who he is and why I ought to love him.
God give me eyes to see the precious child in every person, like you see.