I grew up in what was called a "Low" Episcopal Church. We only had communion once a month at the main service. I think they had it every week at 8 a.m. We lived in fear of becoming "too catholic." Our minister (never to be called a priest), Mr Richardson (from Wales) preached regularly on that subject as I remember - at least enough to impress my child mind. He was not a stern person (except on that subject) and had a lovely preaching voice. He found a scholarship to send me to church camp in High School to my everlasting faith development.
It was at the camp in Gearhart, OR (since sold to Young Life) that I discovered true community and communion as a part of that. We had Eucharist every morning (with) perfunctory fainting by some as we could not have breakfast until after eucharist).
Forever it marked that sacrament with what I found at camp. That camp, assisted and supported by the adults who ran it, modeled what Christian community could really be. I had loved my childhood and had lots of friends and a sense of freedom of person that somehow I had lost as I entered 7th-8th grade and high school with its "in crowd" rules and my lack of physical development and maybe because we moved to a new school twice in two of those years. The metaphor I use in thinking about those days is that I had been freely dancing my way through life and suddenly lost the steps of the dance.
At camp I entered a world where the main rule was "all are included or none are." That environment opened my heart and mind to return to myself. It took a while for the fullness of that experience to grow in me (and continues to reveal new things).
As I was reading the reflections at Suzanne Guthrie's Edge of Enclosure site - these memories came flooding back to me as the beginning of my love for the bread and wine of the eucharist. When the priest pours the heavy bodied sweet wine (please no white or
thin reds) into the chalice - the aroma spreads through the room. As the bread or wafer is broken - the brokenness within me leaps towards wholeness. Which is why the words of "we break this bread to share in the body of Christ, though we are many, we are one body, because we all share in the one bread" speak to me more than "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast." The first captures my sense of what is going on in the rite.
Now I am that priest who pours the wine and breaks the bread -- it is a moment in time when I feel joined to all of time - flowing from before and after through me like some sort of hourglass filled with sand and turned upside down.
For me all the rest, the readings, the sermon, the music are supportive but superfluous. It is the community gathered, the bread (even wafers) and the wine that fire me with the Spirit and feed me for another week of seeing God out in the world.
outside the box
Once upon a time we captured God and we put God in a box and we put a beautiful velvet curtain around the box. We placed candles and flowers around the box and we said to the poor and the dispossessed, "Come! Come and see what we have! Come and see God!" And they knelt before the God in the box. One day, very long ago, the Spirit in the box turned the key from inside and she pushed it open. She looked around in the church and saw that there was nobody there! They had all gone. Not a soul was in the place. She said to herself, "I'm getting out!" The Spirit shot out of the box. She escaped and she has been sighted a few times since then. She was last seen with a bag lady in McDonald's. …
-Edwina GateleyQuoted from Mystics, Visionaries, and Prophets: A Historical Anthology of Women's Spiritual Writings Shawn Madigan, C.S.J., Ed.