Friday, April 9, 2010


“Our ability to love well is directly related to our ability to receive love well...”

This is a line Paul Coutinho SJ, the Jesuit priest and author from India, said to me the other day.

Oh my!

How foreign this idea. How counter-cultural. An eastern thought from an Indian Jesuit for me, a western fellow.

If that thought is true, maybe this one is too,

Our ability to live well is directly related to our ability to receive life well.

“Receiving’s not a guy thing,” I said to Fr. Coutinho. He chuckled a bit.

I wasn’t joking.

I’m built to give, not receive. How much of my day is spent giving, delivering, providing? Like most guys, that’s my typical day. On the other hand, how much of my day is spent receiving? Little, maybe. None, probably.

Ours is a noisy, busy, distracting world. Full of doing, going, getting, grinding. Maybe there’s a new way to think here; about living closer to this word, receiving.

What if I make a habit of asking myself and others, "So, what have you received today?"

During last week’s ramp-up to Easter, my mind kept thinking about that "washing of feet" scene in the Bible. I've never thought much of this scene before. It's kind of gross, frankly. Two guys, two thousand years ago. Arguing over whose going to wash who's stinky, dirty, worn-out, gross, desert feet.

But the more I replayed that scene, I saw a big lesson, one that reflects Paul Coutinho’s words to me.

The One who’s beyond this world, Jesus, lays a simple yet profound message on one of his guys, Peter. Brother, quit arguing with Me. You need to give it up. You need to let Me wash your feet. You need to RECEIVE Me.

I'm a lot like Peter. No one's washing my feet. Yuck! No one's touching my gross feet connected to my gross hairy legs and my gross slightly paunchy body and my gross everything else.

You see where this is going?

Maybe Paul Coutinho’s words are an important present-day invitation to a guy, who's working to balance being a decent husband, dad, son, the kind of invitation that’s been handed out over the ages, even way back to a guy who happened to lead a bunch of apostles, an invitation that guys like me have had immense trouble embracing over the ages in our busy, noisy, distracting world of We the Living.

Maybe it’s an invitation to let it go. All of it.

Maybe it's time to learn how to receive.

Maybe it’s time to let Life wash my feet.


  1. Wow I have to say I really appreciate your perspective. I can't say I really thought about receiving life in that way. I mean I've thought about receiving the Lord, as in getting out of the way of myself and my sinful ways and letting him into my life. Although I can't say I've thought the same way about other areas of my life. I've been more in the mindset of what more can I do or how can I improve what I'm already doing. Thanks for sharing.