Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An unending cup

On Sunday, knowing I was going to take communion to a woman who had been hospitalized all summer, I poured consecrated communion juice from the chalice on the altar into the plastic vial in my communion kit.

I've already written of the beauty and grace of the feast that cup provided.

But that consecrated liquid has been sustaining me and the people I visit all week. And I have been amazed at how many communions I have shared and how the sustenance never seems to run dry.

On Monday, I shared communion with a man and his wife, who is suffering from Alzheimer's. She lives in the health care facility of their senior complex and he lives in their apartment. Each day, he takes her "home," where she naps in what once was her bed, and later they take a walk with him pushing her in her wheelchair. He had warned me at the door that she wasn't very talkative and I remembered that from past visits. But when he brought her in, she greeted me warmly and said, You've visted me before, haven't you. Her husband plays the piano, and I asked him to play a hymn. He did and I sang, and his wife joined in. And then we shared communion and prayer, and it brought her to tears. She was so present for each moment. So aware and so filled with a presence of God. It was so unlike my last visit. And so joyful.

On Tuesday, I took communion to a woman who had not been able to be at church in months who was now hospitalized. She welcomed the cup and wafer and said it had been ages since she took communion.

Today, I was at the bedside of a woman who is near death. Her daughters and I had sung several hymns. When we arrived at her bedside, the woman's hand was so clenched, her daughter couldn't pry a tissue from it. As the songs progressed, her hand relaxed more and more until it was open and released from tension. We shared communion, but the mother was too sedated to participate, so I took communion for her, presenting the wafer and cup to her in turn and then consuming them on her behalf.

At day's end, I was summoned to the home of a woman who had been hospitalized last month and was awaiting a second surgery, she was lonely and weary and depressed. I abided with her through her pain -- and was tempted to say "Dude, that sucks." as my able mentor has taught me, but I translated that sentiment in language more appropriate to the woman's generation. And then we shared communion. And I was amazed that the cup poured on Sunday was still sustaining on Wednesday. And the woman said it had been ages since she had taken communion, and she was grateful.

And I marveled at how far that communion cup had traveled from the altar at Water's Edge to Bay Park and Rancho Bernardo and Hillcrest and El Cajon and Clairemont. And I marveled at how many people it had sustained, including me.

And I was reminded that the grace of God is unending and unlimited and open to all. And that grace presents itself in many ways, but one beautiful way is through communion. Bountiful communion.

Thanks be to God.

No comments: