Leading up to my sacraments, the one that was the most public, the one that everyone watches and sees always is receiving the host. No one would ever know (and most didn’t until a few months ago) whether or not I’d been baptized or confirmed, but everyone knew that I didn’t receive Eucharist.
I wasn’t particularly nervous about the logistics of it but there were a couple of things on my mind. I’m always anxious of tripping over my own two feet, and the thought did cross my mind of what might happen if I swallowed the wrong way and had a coughing fit. Coughing in church is a nightmare.
I think I thought that I’d feel like when you’re a kid and you’re constantly picked last and then you finally get picked in gym class or invited to the Slug Club in Harry Potter. I would be in this elite, privileged group and there would be some self-satisfied feeling of being part of ‘it’. Part of me felt bad for thinking this, and I also felt that that wasn’t what I wanted it to feel like.
But how else should it feel?
I can still count on one hand the number of times I’ve received the Eucharist since my first time at the Easter Vigil, and it is so completely not like I thought it would be.
There is a slight nervousness of not knowing if I’m giving enough respect. Have I bowed low enough? I know I’m forgetting something at the end, but it’s not intentional; my respect and love for Christ is very much present.
I always have a pause because for that second I forget to say ‘amen’, especially when it’s Father Jerry giving me the body of Christ. I try to see his hand, the perfectly round wafer as he offers it to me, but invariably our eyes meet. In the last couple of weeks, he will say my name, and there’s an intensity in his look, a solemn shadow that emanates from his gaze that puts me in mind of the Mystery, and there is so much feeling that I’m receiving in my heart that the ‘Amen’ gets stuck for that moment.
It is all at once calm and comfort, belonging and humbling while at the same time remaining spiritual and wonderful and electrifying.
There is also feeling behind the wine, joy and excitement, but it is not as gripping as my initial and internal reaction to the Host.
Joining my brothers and sisters in Christ each day, there is that belonging, but not the prideful way that I was afraid of feeling. There are no mean girls, no cliques, no hazing. Each of us feels different things and even if we were to describe the experience using the same words, I would doubt very much that we’re feeling the same feelings.
I’m also glad it isn’t the kind of privilege of exclusion; it is not remotely elite. All are welcome here to participate in the liturgy, the breaking of bread, the sharing of sustenance. There is no self-satisfaction, no prideful better than you sentiment, but there is a satisfaction of contentment. There is feeling beneath your feet and the sensation that the path is so clearly ahead.
For me this daily reminder and partaking in the sharing of Christ’s body and blood is also a time to slow myself down beginning with the walk up to receive, to breathe, to clear my mind to everything except the host and for that moment let the Resurrection take hold as a reminder before my day moves forward.
There is no club, but there is belonging.