Right now, the Samson's and the Burney's attend different parishes. I think not only is it a matter of us having diverse tastes, but also, being at two different parishes expands our network. It's worked so far, but during the Christmas season I went to Mass a few times with Lisa, and then Lisa and I began to go to St. Peter Claver on Wednesday nights together.
I love worshipping with Lisa because she teaches me things. I never went through RCIA, and I often wish I would. The parish I came into the Catholic Church at didn't do certain gestures of worship, and when I saw Lisa do them, I was moved, and wanted to offer my devotion to Christ in such beautiful, physical ways, too. So there we were on our knees, as the priest is preparing the gifts of bread, water, and wine, and at some point, Lisa makes this gesture that I guess is like the sinner who beat his breast and said, "Lord, have mercy." And I did the same, because I need very physical ways to express myself in worship. I'm a Pentecostal, y'all, and once a wild Penty.... Well, you can imagine.
There was another point on our knees, and I wish I could tell you exactly where. I'll have to ask her tomorrow, Lisa held up her hands into a cup shape, as if she were admitting her emptiness and saying, "God, here is my cup. Fill it." My cup feels very empty some days, whether or not it actually is, and this too is a gesture that I found deeply moving, and meaningful. As we stood for communion, we began to sing one of my favorite hymns ever, "Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees." I remember being just a girl, singing it in the Methodist Church before I knew what born-again even meant, and my heart would swell, though I had no real idea what the song meant. It must have foreshadowed the life I would lead right now. I am grateful for that. Everything seemed to be pointing to my new life.
I felt so much peace consume me during that Mass. Last Wednesday depression had shrouded me in darkness. And there were slight changes that Fr. Norman made in the way he celebrates Mass that meant so much. Where we usually said, "Jesus, Prince of Peace," oddly, we sang, "Jesus Light of Life, you take a way the sins of the world." And just that little variation meant so much to me. It was that night that I became absolutely certain that, come what may, contract or no, I had to write about all this. And amen!
If you think Wednesday was great for me, yesterday was freakin' awesome. It's not unusual for me to weep after communion, or even just before I receive. But Sunday, on my knees listening to the priest repeat the words of Jesus, I had a tearful, blessed and true epiphany.
Fr. Norman often sings through the offering of the gifts, and you feel like you're in some glorious musical, like Brother Sun, Sister Moon or something, without all the walking in sunny, flower filled meadows. The music is very much contemporary, without being schmaltzy like so many worship songs are today, and Fr. Norman has an amazing voice. So there he is, holding up this single, shining host, singing to us Jesus's words, "Take this, all of you, and EAT it. This is my body, which has been broken for you." Take this, all of you. Take this Mair, and EAT!
Tears streamed down my cheeks. The moment was utterly transformative. I wasn't thinking about cupcakes. I was completely nourished by Jesus. I knew the key was realizing that I can't do anything apart from him. And eating is good, and can be a holy act. He wants me to eat, only of him first. So much of the Gospels centers around meals. He wants me to eat. How have I missed this? I mean, I knew it, but I didn't. I was blind to what was right before me. Water turns into wine. Bread is multiplied. The Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is better than the bread you bake in the oven. Jesus said he was bread: the bread of life. Something to nourish you is all around, and it doesn't have to be cupcakes. Poetry is food. Love is food. You are food, blessed, broken, and given. You are Christ to me. Take me, Jesus asks again and again. Your love nourishes me. Eat! Jesus said. Blessed are they who hunger. He will fill us.
I love you. Thanks for letting me be me.
P.S. Walked again today, me and the Beautiful Good News TheraShoes. And it was raining! Did my first OA meeting online. It felt like home. And I did not have the cake at Sunday dinner. :D
P.S.S. For your Eucharistic pleasure, a poem by the ever fabulous Mary Karr:
Before my first communion, I clung to doubt
as Satan spider-like stalked
the orb of dark surrounding Eden
for a wormhole into paradise.
God had formed me from gel in my mother’s womb,
injected by my dad’s smart shoot.
They swapped sighs until
I came, smaller than a bite of burger.
Quietly, I grew till my lungs were done
then the Lord sailed a soul
like a lit arrow to inhabit me.
Maybe that piercing
made me howl at birth,
or the masked creatures whose scalpel
cut a lightning bolt to free me.
I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
and hauled around. Time-lapse photos show
my fingers grow past crayon outlines,
my feet come to fill spike heels.
Eventually, I lurched out
to kiss the wrong mouths, get stewed,
and sulk around. Christ always stood
to one side with a glass of water.
I swatted the sap away.
When my thirst got great enough to ask,
a clear stream welled up inside,
some jade wave buoyed me forward,
and I found myself upright
in the instant, with a garden
inside my own ribs aflourish.
There, the arbor leafs.
The vines push out plump grapes.
You are loved, someone said. Take that
and eat it.