Friday, July 22, 2016

In Sunlight and Sacrament

Like every other Friday morning, I woke earlier than normal, got dressed in the light of a still-rising sun, and drove to my parish on an emptier than usual road.  It’s Friday, and I had a Mass to celebrate at 7:30am.

I’m dealing with an infection in my eyelid, which made my spirit a bit more dampened, my affect beleaguered.  Reading from my Prayer Book and the Missal with a half-functioning eye didn’t seem like good, old-fashioned Friday morning fun. But it’s the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene. Given her significance in the life of the Church, I figured I  could muster enough strength to keep her feast and say the Mass, even if I had to accomplish it through a puffy eyelid and painful squinting.  Yet, as strange and difficult as it was to focus on the Mass, given the persistence of painfully disturbed vision, there came a moment I’m not soon to forget.

“The Blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation,” I said to her as she knelt to receive the Lord.  That’s when my eyes caught something in the chalice.  Something swirling, something thick, something that spoke to me of substance and weight.  Something that no one else seemed to see.

But that’s just it.  There was nothing else in there but the wine itself, the blood of Christ.  There was no ‘thing’ present in that chalice other than the sacrament itself.  And then I realized what I saw.  The sun was slicing through the blinds on the windows, blinds that have only one job: keeping the sunlight out. But it was like this beam refused to be blocked, forcing its way into the chapel with an obstinate resolve to glint off the chalice wall and onto the surface of the wine.  And as the sun illuminated the wine, I gazed into the chalice precisely at the right moment and saw the substance of Christ under the form of wine.  I saw swirls of crimson mixed with purple, the particles of the wine drinking in the sunlight and becoming brighter. I saw the weight of grace and mercy dancing with fluidity in the chalice, moving to the rhythm of the truest and most beautiful life there ever will be.

Jesus was there this morning.  He was in the chalice, as the wine moved and danced with every step I took.  He was in the people who woke at such an early hour to meet him. He was in the sunlight that decided it needed to be reflected off the golden walls of the chalice into the deep crimson of the wine. He was even present in my pain and distractions, though I only see that now.

Jesus was there this morning.  And, my God, it was good!

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