I kneel at the altar rail, my body aching to be a prayer position. How long has it been, I think, since I got on my knees in front of God? How long since I've let myself feel the ground and bow my head and fold my fingers into each other? The priest looks at my upturned face and holds out the Bread, and says,
The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.
I hold the wafer with a slight tremor in my hands. Oh. I hear the small, quiet voice. I miss that.
I've been thinking this week about the connection between our hearts and bodies and selves and souls. And how they are messily and beautifully one. That we are integrated, indivisible, our physicality mirroring and reflecting our spirituality, and vice-versa. I have wanted to get on my knees, palms raised, and whisper my quiet questions. I have wanted to turn my face in His direction and cry and laugh and sing. But I haven't. I say all the customary things: I am busy, I am tired, I am just-not-in-the-mood, I'm not hungry. I clothe the hunger in excuses, in worries and petty cares, in too much responsibility and too little time. I tell myself I'll feed on Him later, but I can do it on my own for now. I can manage. I'm not really that hungry.
And the words of the priest ring back in my desperately hungry heart: feed on Him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.
Feed on Him. That means be hungry for Him, Hilary Joan, and let Him fill you.
In thy heart. That means in the innermost part of you, Hilary Joan, the part that is guarded and wistful and singing and fragile, and let Him inside you.
By faith. That means trust it, when you don't feel full after, Hilary Joan, when you find the Word hard, and the teaching mysterious, and the prayers heavy, and sing out anyway.
With thanksgiving. That means the gratitude that knows Him, Hilary Joan, and remembers His faithfulness.
He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
And suddenly, among the clamor of voices that beg me to be self-sufficient, to be more efficient, less needy, less hungry, I hear Him say, Hilary Joan, won't you let me feed you?