Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, on the day of the Resurrection, I paint my toenails red.
I haven’t painted my toenails in a solid year. It seems frivolous, too silly to spend my time on. But it’s been a long time since I’ve done anything much for my body.
My mother-in-law brings me back a fancy bottle of Dead Sea foot cream from Israel. I’ll use it later, I think, when… But I don’t know the end of the sentence. When I feel like I’m worth it?
In seminary, I wrote dozens of papers using words like “incarnational” and “embodied” and “the body of Christ.” And to allow myself time to write those papers, I stayed up almost late enough to see the night stretch into morning. I ate Cheetos and drank coffee and Coke Zero. It was one thing to write about the body of Jesus. It was another thing to pay any attention to my body.
But on the first day of the week, the day that I foolishly believe that Jesus’ scarred and broken body started breathing again, I take out the foot cream from Israel. I massage it into my feet, between my toes. It feels good.
I manage to silence the voices that are in my mind, that remind me that things like foot cream and red nail polish are for pretty girls, not the average-looking people. That I need to go clean up the house or take out the recycling instead of taking this silly time to myself.
Instead, I rub the lotion into my feet. And I act out what I wrote all those papers on. Jesus’ body mattered, I tell myself. My body matters. My feet matter. My toenails matter. I swipe on the red OPI. It is unnecessary, foolish.
On the fifth day of Easter, I discover another bottle of lotion. One of those $20 tubs of shea butter cream from The Body Shop. It appeared in my mailbox about a year ago, in a gift bag. Like a gift, except there was no name of the sender. It must have been sent to me by mistake, I thought. And then I put it away, possibly to give to someone else. It was too nice for me to use.
But I discover it in my closet. I shower and dress, and then I open the tub. I slather it on my feet. Rub it between my toes and on my ankles. On the cuticles of those red toes. As I rub, the perfume scent is overpowering, and I can’t help but think of another bottle of perfume emptied on another’s feet.
The unnamed woman emptied the bottle and massaged the feet of Jesus because he was the Son of God.
But maybe all feet are deserving of perfume poured out, lotion slathered on, hands gently massaging the parts of us most calloused and neglected. Just because these bodies—these feet, these toenails—were created by God. My body, regardless of whether I or anyone else thinks it is beautiful, matters. My feet matter. My toenails matter.
As I rub the lotion in, I realize. It is not just a foot rub.
It is an anointing.