Sunday, June 28, 2009
The sweetest thing I've ever seen
Today I witnessed the sweetest thing I've ever seen. And the best part was I was able to immediately recognize it, and feel it and enjoy it, as the sweetest, most loving gesture anybody could ever see. It was one of those moments you just have to cross your hands across your chest over your heart and say "ahhhh."
That we ended up in church today was in itself a whole other story. I will spare you the hilarity of that for another day. Anyway, we sneaked into church late and sat in the back. We usually sit in the front, up on the right. I've been a right-hand-side-of-church-sitter my entire life. I learned last week that my brother is too. Of course. Toward the end of the service, my husband and I walked with our two little girls up to the altar rail and kneeled for communion. In our church, you kneel there at the altar and the priest comes by and gives you communion in your cupped hands, saying: "the body of Christ, the bread of heaven."
You take the body of Christ, bread of heaven, which is really a little tasteless wafer, and put it in your mouth. Then, along comes another guy (or gal) and they say something about the wine. I drink from the cup because I don't think God's going to let me get sick and die from drinking wine in a silver cup. Some people who are more squeamish dip their little bread of heaven into the cup. Now the one cool thing about Episcopal churches is that the wine is real. To me, grape juice and a cracker is just ridiculous. I'm already going out on a limb trying to think this is the body of Christ, the bread of heaven. Don't insult me with grape juice and a saltine.
The other cool thing about the Episcopal church is that kids who want to join the rest of the body of Christ by getting a little piece of the body of Christ can take communion whenever they want to take it. Second grade is not the magic age. You do not have to take a class and get a white dress, like we all did in Catholic church. Now, if the little kids are really young, and/or their parents have decided they shouldn't take the body of Christ yet, then the priest will give them a nice little blessing on their sweet little heads. Even the blessing is touching, especially if they really mean it, like our old priest Jay did.
Anyway, back to my story. As you might imagine, my little girls were not content getting a nice little blessing on their heads. They wanted to get a piece of the body of Christ and would holler as much, right up there at the altar. "Hey, why can't I have the body of Chriiiiiiisttttttt??" Caroline whined on a couple of occasions. So finally, to save myself the embarassment mostly, and also because I really didn't like the excuse that they weren't old enough to join the rest of the body of Christ in taking the body of Christ -- like second-class citizens or something, we relented and taught them how to hold their little hands out and say "Amen."
Today, things were a little off. A new, interim priest they didn't recognize was bringing the body of Christ, bread of heaven, so instead of putting her precious little hands up, cupped all cute together, Caroline just bowed her head. My guess was she did it more from shyness than anything else. The priest gave her a blessing on her sweet little head and then turned to Catherine.
Catherine, kneeling at the altar, in a very fancy dress and her curly hair pulled up in a high ponytail, held her little hands up. The priest placed the communion into her hands, saying "the body of Christ, the bread of heaven." Then, with her right hand, she picked up the bread of heaven and immediately, without a minute's delay, broke the little wafer in half and handed one piece to her sister.
Oh my gosh. My heart just melted! It was just the most loving, precious thing I had ever seen. I always hear people refer to "God moments," and this morning I most certainly experienced one. That kind of love ... it's amazing.
Hours later, it occurs to me (again) that we can learn a lot from little kids. You know, when we're not yelling at them to stop fighting or to eat their dinner or whatever else they do when they're being kids and we're being frazzled parents doing the best we can with what we have. Our job is only to be aware enough to find the lesson.