Sunday, April 18, 2010

Take the Moment

How do you prepare yourself to receive communion? What do you do on the way down the aisle? When I was a kid, right before I was about to get up to the priest I'd stop singing and say a little prayer. I guess I still do that, though not so much with words as by taking a deep breath and sort of trying to let go and be open.

If it's a long church, sometimes when I'm walking down the aisle I'll see the crucifix or artwork hanging in the front, the vaults before me, and I'll get hit by the drama of the moment. I'm not just walking here -- I'm choosing to walking towards something, something important, and also unexpected, even a little ominous. It's a crucifix that's hanging there, after all.

And I share the desire, the hunger for this with a whole lot of others. This isn't a individual trip, it's a group migration. It may not be that far from my seat to the eucharistic minister, but what we're doing here is a pilgrimage.

Sometimes I imagine this is what it must be like after death. We're all cast together, strangers on the road to God. And we come in all shapes and sizes, but with that same yearning for Him.

My novice director always used to tell us, at the beginning of a retreat you should do everything really, really slow, even so slow that at first it seems artificial. Eat slow, breathe slow -- and above all walk slow. Not Matrix slow-mo slow, but slower than you normally do. More intentionally. And as wacky as it might sound, after a day or so doing that really does help you to settle down and become more present to what's going on within you and around you.

Coming so late in the liturgy, it's easy to be distracted as we're walking down the aisle to communion. What am I doing next? What time were my brunch reservations? What was that thing I was thinking about 10 minutes ago? It goes on and on. If you're not careful, suddenly you're halfway back to your seat and realizing you have absolutely no impression or memory of having just received communion, and wondering if you just walked by without receiving until now that you stop to think about it, you have a funny taste in your mouth. (Oh have I been there...)

We all prepare for -- or maybe a better term is open ourselves to -- the moment of reception in different ways. If you find yourself having that experience of missing it, maybe try to take some slow deep breaths, walk a little more methodically, or just try to carry yourself a little more gently, and see if that doesn't help.

"Best to take the moment present as a present for the moment," as they sing in Into the Woods. That's certainly how God intends it.

1 comment:

Robert said...


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