Lenten Observance: Day 38

Well, today is Holy Thursday — as an altar boy I have a memory of being one of the guys who got to sit on the altar area as Msgr. Doyle washed our feet (to show humility, I guess — and Msgr. Doyle was a pretty humble guy).  I was worried about laughing (ticklish feet), but I managed to keep a stone face (just barely).  My mom was worried about my stinky feet causing the aged Msgr. Doyle to pass out, or for him to get angry at my having stinky feet or my having holes in my sock (which the disciples never had!).  So I had to get ready for my foot close-up by washing my feet and putting on new socks before heading to church.  Success, mom!  He never suspected the usual condition of my feet and socks.

Tao 75 & 76:

75: “When taxes are too high, people go hungry.  When the government is too intrusive, people lose their spirit.”  Boy, this sounds like a libertarian political ad.  Of course, the high taxes that the Tao’s author is talking about would be quite a bit higher and oppressive than anything we’ve ever seen.  And taxes in a monarchy, esp. an absolute monarchy or near-absolute monarchy, go to the king for whatever the king wants (golden throne, or the like) and that helps no one.  In a representative government or a democracy, the people, ideally, choose where the money goes.  And that is different — it is rather like congregationally based churches — if the congregation doesn’t pledge, the church, as a unit, cannot do so much.  Likewise, if taxes are cut too far, then the government cannot do anything, which the libertarians would support, but I’m not sure Lao Tzu necessarily agrees.  And these days, on the intrusive side, boy is there a lot to talk about — look at surveillance practices — in a way, it’s showtime for us all, most of the time.  And women and their reproductive rights are coming under the governmental microscope in a lot of states.

76: “Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard…”  We’ve seen this before, that the way of the Tao allows for and encourages flexibility and response, rather than intransigence.  It is also, I think, the idea behind the statement of Christ in the NT about accepting the kingdom of God as a little child.  Most see it as accepting the kingdom of God without criticism.  I think that it may have more to do with the idea in The Color Purple — that it “pisses God off when you pass by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it” (not exact quote).  A child looks at the world in wonder, and reacts to the wonder of the world with open heart and open mind.  We don’t have to go all the way to corpses to find stiff and hard… As we get older, our limbs and joints harden up, and our bones get more brittle, and our blood vessels get more blockage.  But we have a choice with  our minds and our hearts.  Biologically, our hearts may give out, but following the Tao, our hearts don’t need to give out spiritually.

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