The long and the short of things is sometimes more real. The crux of it, what really matters, what is most important, sometimes is abundantly clear. Stephen King writes about reality being thin, that there is this sheer curtain and sometimes the light hits it just right and we can see the other side of things, hear the clink of cutlery, the sweet notes of a piano.
Today my person that I visit to bring communion to was feeling like she wanted to talk. She told me about all the movies she was too young for during the second world war, but how her mother was desperate to see the news reel, because there wasn’t TV, no other way to offend your sensibilities with brutal war footage but in a crowded theater full of cigarette smoke and children. So her mother took her to these movies.
She teared up as told me about the first time she saw a moving image of a concentration camp, and she couldn’t speak for a time. I asked her what she’d thought.. She said that she hadn’t known people could live that way, as skeletons in rags and behind barbed wire, how she just hadn’t known, hadn’t realized that it was real, as real as those faces in the black and white footage, clinging to the wire fences, starved and weak and beaten.
And she told me that she has reached a point in her life where she has so many questions, and no answers, no one she can ask, no one who would know anymore.
All of this while my children played with Georgiana the cat and wriggled like puppies on the floor.
Today we fed all the people who came to eat hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy, and with our smiles, with our asking how their people are, with the packages we sent out for one of our guests who delivers meals to the shut ins he knows. Sacred food, because it is sent forth from our kitchen, because it includes people we do not know in our community.
Today a friend and her partner visited us and every time I looked out Kelly had the biggest smile on her face.
Today I was trying to wrangle my children into a rehearsal for a tune we are singing on Easter, because I’ve been taught that once we learn a piece of music it becomes part of us, and so we are giving it back to people in a meaningful way when we sing something that we have taken into ourselves. I was walking away and called over my shoulder to the girls that they were being terrible people (because they WERE! and HAD BEEN! ALL DAY!). I was shaking my head and headed toward the kitchen when another soprano stopped me with her smile.
She told me I was a good mom.
And she smiled.
And she rocked in the rocking chairs we have in our church.
Sometimes lately it has seemed as though every thing was changing, many times actually crumbling in my hands, as though everything I touched withered and died. I’m not good at change, though I am working on being better, more adaptable. My brother commented a few weeks ago that he fears he has ruined me, that now I only know this one way to do church, be church, and I am ruined for anything else.
It just is easier for me if things stay the same, be they hard things or easy things, if I can expect an event it is less jarring somehow, I fight less against it.
I am realizing that there is more sacred food than the bread that was baked and the wine that was blessed. I am realizing that sacred food is also the food that someone who is food insecure takes away in to go boxes to bring to people who are worse off than he is. I am seeing that words are food too, and that hearing someone tell you you are doing something you’re pretty sure you suck at well, it is food, nourishment to a mom heart that is so tired of the bickering and the cooking and the laundry.
Sacred food in the words that my person spoke to me today as I brought her communion and had to read that little bit of liturgy myself because the print is too small for her. Sacred though imperfect, I am reconciling these things, trying to expect less perfection from myself, and from those around me too. Trying to live into the sacredness that is this time of having small children and never enough time or money, trying to be all things to all people and realizing that if I am to do that every offering will be a slightly cracked and crumpled one.
But an offering nonetheless.
I’d like to be grounded to my room, I’d curl up on my bed and read a book. It would be quiet and life could go on without me for a while. I’d like to be left to my devices, but am learning that I am not called to my own devices, but to the gaping wound that is community, all of the ways that we hurt each other, all of the things that we bring to the table, the things that we need from each other, and the sacred things that we give. Memories, tears, and food.
The Red Tent fell around the kitchen today and three different generations of women cooked and cleaned and laughed and told stories. And I missed those who were absent, saw their faces and heard their laughter.
Next week we will come together again as a community and remember Fran one more time. The choir is working on a difficult piece with no time signature and naturals and sharps sprinkled throughout. The choir will chant a psalm and there will be a violin. We will meet together at the rail and consume again together while Fran walks forward along a dirt path on legs that are strong, toward a campsite that was prepared for her. There are lights in the trees, those plastic owl lamps, and somewhere a choir is singing and the words sound familiar to her but cannot touch her anymore. I’m not sure I can make it through those words, those notes, without my own tears getting in the way. I will think of those tears like rain striking her dirt path, a brief shower out of nowhere that leaves the world smelling sweet and green again.
There is change coming, I know that there is, I gaze at all of the people that I love and know that we cannot have these perfect, exhausting days forever and ever, we are growing and changing, using this sacred food of communion and community and laughter as fuel to move deeper into the love of God.
. I hope that you know that we thought of you today, that we smiled during the prayers of the people and elbowed each other. I hope you know how loved you are, how needed. I hope you know that I will be ok, we all will really.
I love you still. You are divine and you are sacred. Please remember that.