I don’t know if you have heard, but the well-loved collaborative blog A Deeper Story is closing its doors next month. Some of the contributing writers are re-releasing their Deeper Story pieces in their own spaces, and I am joining them. I began writing for DS in the spring of 2013, and loved every bit of it — especially the opportunity to connect with the brilliant, fierce, and kind writers there. Many thanks to Nish for putting her dream out in the world.
This post was originally published on Deeper Story on April 24, 2013. I’m resisting the urge to offer caveat now, after three semesters at divinity school.
It was a few years ago now that we three were gathered with red wine bought in a hurry and cheap water crackers to carry snooty cheese. Back then, the guys brought the stories and I simply gathered them into myself, knit line by line into something I could wrap myself in for a long time to come. We were in somewhat disparate spiritual spaces then, but located here each week by a fire, by wine, by strands of Gospel-truth nonetheless stringing us together. We spun sacrament and wondered at holy judgment and marveled at the created order telling the same Story over and over again. This night as we talked, I reached over the cheese and absentmindedly broke a cracker in two.
Suddenly before me, it was as the Host, held high above the altar, split down the middle, Body broken for me and for many, wine and Blood to follow. I nearly gasped and stole a glance around the table, wondering if my companions had noticed the small transformation, but in our communion they were busy offering Grace and the fact that Christ was among us didn’t need pointing out.
I ate the pieces and took a sip of wine with an Amen upon my heart, and it was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was coming back to Shore.
it’s just a building, honey.
She says this for the dozenth time into the phone last week, as I’m squeezing a lime half into my drink, half into my eye. There’s a sting in both, and it comes out in my response. We’re talking about a church in town that’s as dim and flat as an abandoned grocery store, and I’m wondering offhand how anyone can choose to enter such darkness every week, searching for Light. I’m flippant, and I’m sure she can hear the eyeroll across the state between us. I snap something about agreeing to disagree, a line that doesn’t usually have a whole lot of actual grace in it.
I’ve learned over the past few years that often, the people closest to me somehow get “theology” from me in stuttering half-bites, and it has nothing to do with being a prophet in her hometown. It mostly has to do with me being an scatterbrained pain in the ass.
But here’s the truth behind the snap: when I hear the shrugging off of designating space and elements as sacred, as something more, something unravels in me. For me to know that mysteriously and irrationally, it’s not just bread, not just wine somehow help me to breathe in the Truth that He was not just another man, just back then.
Though every common bush is afire with God, there’s something about the discrete moments of Heaven meeting Earth that moor me, that enable me to find the rest of the world to be charged with God’s grandeur. It is the Host at the altar that also makes my water cracker and cheap wine sacred, as well as every other meal. It is the waters of Baptism that carry healing in the rain. And for me, it is a nave that helps me to look up, always.
It is special, elevated moments in special spaces that pull all the ordinary ones out of haze into sharper focus.
I realize that this is not the case for everyone, that even with the mystery and metaphor, these things will appear stiff and disjointed for many. I realize I am in a privileged place to be able to make such distinctions. I do worry about evangelizing a Certain Way of doing these things more than Christ himself, and I know I’ve only walked my own footsteps. I don’t know if I’m arguing something here, not really, because I desperately believe the universal Church is brilliant mosaic and this is just one glass piece.
But the thing is that it was incarnational, sacramental sight that brought me back to the Incarnated Christ, and it is the Incarnation mysteriously known in sacred instances and embodied in the same kind of places that leads me back out again into the world, without end.
So I’ll probably keep showing you about this piece of tile I have, and keep telling you, clumsily, how beautiful it is, how it reflects Light.
On my best days, I hope we’ll glue ours together, finding more Image with every bit.