Every grandparents’ day, my parents take my nephew out for a meal to enjoy some special time with him. This is something he looks forward to every year. One year, their initial plan to go to a diner was thwarted by it being closed. My parents adjusted plans and went to a fast-food restaurant instead. My nephew was devastated when they drove away from the diner. Crying in frustration, he said, “this wasn’t in my plans!”
I have resonated a lot with my nephew as I reflect on the elements of my own frustrations. I had hoped that the racial awakening after the murder of George Floyd, and our collective compassion, grown from suffering a global pandemic together, might be a catalyst for change. And yet, the sense of justice and peace I hungered for feels more elusive than ever.
On this Holy Thursday, we are returned to Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. I often connect with Peter, who in his own exclamation of things “not being in his plans,” continues to misunderstand Jesus, and get things wrong: cutting off someone’s ear, denying Jesus, hiding in the upper room. Peter’s frustration is so palpable to me, the confusion of the injustice around us can be suffocating at times. We approach Easter, and yet our world does not seem any closer to ending wars, changing the course of climate change, eradicating systemic racism, or managing pandemic outbreaks.
As Jesus ate his last supper, the world around him was not moving towards greater peace, but that did not stop him from offering a model of how to respond to the confusion and frustration we might find ourselves in. Jesus models a way to channel our frustration, by washing each other’s feet. In service to one another, we might channel our frustration into Holy Frustration.
- What thwarted plans are at the root of your frustration?
- In what way might we need to have our own feet washed of the frustrations we have been carrying?
- How can you wash someone else’s feet to respond to their frustration?
Marcos Gonzales believes in the power of education as a path towards our collective liberation. His pursuit of a faith that does justice has taken him from Micronesia as a Jesuit Volunteer to Los Angeles working at Homeboy Industries as a case manager and is now based in Chicago where he coordinates and facilitates spaces for folx seeking to create trauma-informed, anti-racist, and inclusive spaces across the U.S.