take and eat.

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photo by six steps shared under a Creative Commons license.

To take communion is to remember. We are told to search our hearts beforehand, an injunction that I take seriously but find problematic. There is the pesky in-law situation, and the person in the next pew who unfriended me on Facebook. I search my heart but find no clear sign of what to do. My attempt at repentance is important, but it sometimes misses the joy of a shared meal. Instead, I approach the table with a sense of being trapped in the mess of my life with no way out.

To take communion is also to remember the stories of Jesus, as the liturgy says. Take and eat, take and drink in remembrance of me. The act of remembering goes deep, these stories that I have grown up with, down to the toes of the patent leather shoes I wore as a girl. I carry those stories with me, just as I carry all the ages that I was when I heard them for the first time, all the ages that they have shaped me. To remember them is to remember myself.

This year, I have encountered the stories of Jesus in new ways. The Incarnation is so physical and earthy, now that I have experienced childbirth. Those stories about the least of these and Jesus’ relationship with little children make more sense now that I have cared for someone so helpless. And that command that Jesus gave during the Last Supper, take and eat my body, broken for you. I have spent the entire year saying that to Atticus, keeping him alive using my body. I have felt jagged and broken as I carried and cared for his new life, and that sense of being broken has stayed with me. I have always rolled my eyes a bit at women who declare that they love their stretch marks because those stretch marks brought them their children. But I have more respect for my body and its brokenness now than ever before.

I have heard women say that parenting is sanctifying, and I did not doubt that that would be true. Eleven years of being married have smoothed some of my rough edges. But I did not know that the act of breastfeeding would cause the story of Jesus and his broken body to resonate more deeply with me. Perhaps it would have helped if I had made that connection sooner, had seen what I was doing as a profoundly spiritual act rather than simply a physically draining one.

We take communion to feed ourselves, body and soul. I dip my bread in the wine and think of the baby we are celebrating as well as the baby I kept alive this year using my body. That I was given the strength to make it through this year is a nourishing thought. I remember Jesus, and I remember myself.

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  1. By Glass Heart Communion on 12/16/2011 at

    […] take and eat. – Through a Glass, Darkly To take communion is to remember. We are told to search our hearts beforehand, an injunction that I take seriously but find problematic. There is the pesky in-law situation, and the person in the next pew who unfriended me . […]

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