I follow behind the priest as she presses small bits of bread into palms of upturned hands.
“The body of Christ. The bread of heaven.”
I raise the heavy silver chalice to the lips of the people, and they drink.
“The blood of Christ. The cup of salvation.”
She and I reach the end of the rail, and glide slowly back to the beginning to repeat this holy dance, person by person. We intone these ancient words nearly one hundred times, adding an “Amen” after each of the elements is consumed.
I look at hands and faces. I can see who is at peace, and who is troubled. For each one I seek eye contact. Many are uncomfortable with this intimacy, and gaze down down at the old wood, or turn inward with their thoughts. Most follow our hands in anticipation as we come toward them where they kneel.
And then there are the ones who look into my eyes deeply as I say the words and offer the cup. A few smile back. These are the people who nourish me, who give me their blessing.
I really don’t know sometimes what the words mean. It doesn’t matter, really. What does matter is that we have come to table to share a family meal.