Sunday, January 6, 2013

Oh, Taste and See That The Lord Is Good!

A New Year.

A New Beginning.

Reflection of the past.  What did I do well?  What did I do poorly?  Of what am I proud?  Of what am I ashamed? What would I have done differently? 

What can I do this year to make it better?  What can I do to help others make their New Year better?  How can I reflect the Love of God rather than give Him yet another black eye?

How can I love more?  How can I love better?

How can I love?

It had been months since I had partaken of Holy Communion.  I remain a Church Gypsy, still struggling to cast off the past and commit to plant new stakes at a new Tabernacle.  This morning, at my potential "Church-To-Be", I sat next to a lady who belonged to my former church.  I also spied another couple attending who interestingly belonged to my former church.  A sign, I wondered?

The lady I sat with had also suffered grievous loss in her life, and had been disappointed by her home church ... like me.  Coincidence?  Providence?

The other couple I spied: How curious to consider that I had sung at their wedding (my first singing gig! ... a story in itself) and that he had been president of the church council at one time.

But, it was the Communion that really centered me.  It had been several months since I had taken Communion.  As the congregation recited The Lord's Prayer, a corporate recitation I had not done in ages, I choked up a bit upon hearing all those saintly voices in unison praising and praying to God.  The Communion of the Saints.  It felt so good.  So familiar.  So needed.  So nourishing.  So blessed.

As the Pastor spoke the Words of Institution, a wave of light grape aroma drifted across the rows, the scent of God permeating my senses and soul.

"Breathe deep, my child!  I am here!  Welcome to my table!  I am so glad to have here to sup with Me!"

The Bread and the Wine.  The Body and the Blood.  Christ present with us in and through Communion.

I recall sitting at my mother's table some years back.  I had had a pretty rough surgery requiring me to stay at my mom's home for some ten days.  I was pretty weak and nauseous when I got to her house.  My mom had prepared what she has always called her "Garbage Soup", although that is the absolute last thing I would think to call it!  She had purposefully and lovingly made it with good ol' red meat -- beef -- and allowed it to steep extra long to assemble the most nutrients possible.

Up until this point, I had been unable to keep food down.  I was still seven pounds underweight after five nights in the hospital.  When I sipped the first spoonful of soup, it brought all of my cells to life!  They all slurped and sucked in every bit of nutrition my mom's soup had to offer.  She apologized for such a simple meal, but I told her: "Mom, it is the most exquisite thing in the whole universe.  Nothing could possibly taste better."  It was so comforting and healing.

Today's Communion felt that way, too -- comforting and healing.  My soul devoured the Goodness of the Bread and Wine, every element of my being feasting upon "the Goodness of the Lord."

Psalm 34:8 -- "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him"


I had the day before Thanksgiving off from work; but, I still got up at my usual time of "O dark thirty" to take advantage of the grocery stores being empty.  I hate crowds, so I find the luxury of sleeping in not so luxurious in the face of crowded supermarkets.  I was surprised at the dense fog that awaited me as I pulled my car out of the garage.  The weather man on the radio said the fog would not lift until noon.  I was forced to drive slower than the speed limit, the visibility not allowing me to see too far beyond my headlights.  As I wound along the small highway, I found myself a bit disoriented.  As certain "landmarks" appeared in the fog, my brain would readjust, mentally drawing a map of where I was along the route and adjusting as each known landmark suddenly -- and unexpectedly -- appeared before me.

I drove through a little town nearby: one of those quaint, old historic "townes" that offers the passerby a view back into an America of a bygone era: storefronts with porches along the road.  The town had put up its annual Christmas lights which shone so lovely in the foggy dark: white snowflakes attached to the old time streetlamps.  Nostalgia bubbled up inside me as I dreamt of "Christmas past" of my childhood.  The site was so lovely, I pulled my car over to snap a picture with my iPhone.  (The flash was reflected in the small particles of the fog -- no, it's not snowing in the picture above, but rather you're seeing the tiny droplets that made up the fog.)

I got back into my car and continued on to the grocery store.  I pulled onto a more lighted, busier thoroughfare, although the fog still created an odd disorientation even here.  As I pulled into the market's parking lot, I was struck by how the tall, bright lights gave an eerie glow to what was now an unfamiliar scape.

It turns out, I forgot that the supermarket is no longer open 24 hours a day.  I actually arrived about 10 minutes before opening time!  So, I waited a bit in my car, listening to the radio and peering out at my foggy surroundings.

The few moments of solitude caused me to reflect on my foggy journey.  I felt oddly confused and bewildered by the effects of the fog.  If it were not for the occasional landmark along the way -- a road sign, a traffic light or intersection -- I would have had a very difficult time arriving to my final destination. 

How often do we find ourselves in such similar circumstances in life -- our paths fogged with stress, hardship, loss, sorrow?  What "landmarks" do you have in your life that help point the way even when the going is unfamiliar and confusing?  Who are the lamps in your life that offer orienteering and guidance?  How do you stay on the right path when life blinds and disorients you?

Give thanks for those in your life who have built these lamp posts in the past and who today stand as signs along the path.  Life is hard.  Give thanks for the patches of light.  Give thanks for the Waypointers.