This Sunday I cried. I cried over little things -
The outfit that wasn’t perfect.
Tripping on the sidewalk.
Being late to Church…again.
I cried alone.
In my bathroom getting ready.
In my car, driving up highway 36.
Just outside the church I once saw as a refuge.
And when crying alone didn’t placate my confused heart,
I cried surrounded by friends turned strangers by embarrassment.
I cried at the opening prayer.
I cried during praises of worship shouted through song.
I cried when I saw a good man, overcome with frustration,
Turn his heart and mind from the message of scripture to stew in his misfortunes.
I cried knowing his misfortunes would not soon go away.
I cried when I heard the words,
“Today’s sermon is on judgement…and forgiveness”.
I cried hard at that.
And then communion happened.
Officially exhausted, deflated,
full of guilt and self-loathing.
Full of embarrassment and heartache, wishing someone or anyone would tell me why I kept crying?
Full of emotions and depleted of energy I turned to communion like a saving grace.
I did not feel right with God.
I felt shame, like I never had before.
I felt undeserving of His table.
I felt deserving of only the tears that drowned me on this particular Sunday.
I felt, for the first time, unprotected by this sacred ritual.
“But come” beckoned the man holding the chalice.
“You need not even be a Christian to approach this table, for it is God’s table”.
So I stood, and I approached, knowing this was my last refuge,
Deserving of it, or not.
I put aside my shame and stood amongst other worshipers.
I put aside my self-loathing to stand in line,
among groups of others waiting to share a moment with God.
I put aside my embarrassment, wiped my eyes, and hoped no one would notice my neon sign of a red nose.
When it was my turn to approach the deacon,
A woman not much older than I,
But with a knowing and fearful expression at the sight of my face,
I put aside my pride.
I approached the table, battered but hopeful.
I took of the bread and dipped it in the wine.
I closed my eyes, ready for that 15 second prayer the deacon’s graciously and without exception offered to everyone.
A prayer meant to guide you through the week.
A prayer meant to be shared with His body and His blood.
A prayer that opens you up to a moment with God.
That moment of clarity
That moment of silence
That ounce of relief from pain
But no prayer came.
No relief came.
No welcome in my greatest hour of need.
Just the blank stare of a woman,
not much older than I,
waiting for me to leave God’s table.
There was no time for a prayer. I should come back another day.
So I walked away.
I swallowed hard the bread and wine, newly stale and bitter in my mouth.
Confused but obedient to the end. Silent to the end.
I left the church, with no hesitance in my stride...
And I cried.