I’ve been musing lately over the relationship between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the earth. For many of us, our bodies are the only animal we have close contact with each day; they become our exposure to the natural world, the only wild landscape we inhabit.
Yet think of our bodies: we work them, groom them, put chemicals on them; we sanitize them, remove some parts, and inject foreign substances into others. If we take the time to think of them, it is with frustration or dislike.
If there is a locus point for this analogy, it is the soles of the feet–where we touch earth. I love the biblical story of Martha and Mary. As Martha bustled around, righteously busy, Mary ignored what I imagine was a lot of passive-aggressive sighing and carrying on, and focused on sensuously bathing Jesus’s feet. When Martha complained, Jesus stuck up for Mary, essentially stating “she’s got her priorities straight!”
When we really think about it, where has all of our righteous busy work gotten us? Would we not be better served to slow down and bathe the feet of those we love, tend the places of connection, honor the hard work of these bodies, these landscapes?
I’ve been building gardens lately, spreading compost and decomposed leaves and layering bark into pathways. I take great pleasure in doing this work barefoot, the warming soil of spring beneath my feet. At the end of the day it is hard to tell where the earth ends and my feet begin. Last night, after dancing contra barefoot, I returned home and set the water on to boil. I scooped a little sea salt and honey into an empty lemon peel, then used the peel to carefully scrub the soles of my feet. When the water boiled I poured it into a mason jar filled with fresh rosemary, let it steep, then added it to a basin of warm water and slipped my salt-and-honey-coated feet in. I sat there for several minutes, letting the rosemary tea work its magic, feeling so grateful. For everything.
This is a recipe I have used with great effect in my workshops; tending people’s feet tends to bring them right into a state of receptive openness for whatever comes next. To tend your feet or those of a loved one, here’s what you’ll need:
-Mason jar filled with fresh rosemary, lavender, calendula, or rose petals (dried is fine; you’ll need about 1/2 cup)
Pour the water over your herbs and leave to steep for several minutes. Strain, and add this strong tea to a basin of warm water. Add a tablespoon or so of baking soda for especially tough callouses, and a few drops of essential oil if you like (rosemary and lavender are both wonderful.) Have a towel ready near the basin.
-empty half of a citrus peel
-2 tbsp. dead sea salts
-1 tbsp. raw honey
Place the honey and salt in the cup of the peel; use it as a washcloth to gently exfoliate the skin of your feet over the basin of tea. Place your feet in the basin and continue to wash them with the citrus peel. Relax.