Lockdown begins and I am glum. I feel cast off and out of my depth. Sunday mornings pass and I sit at home, in the Deacon doldrums. I sit in all the doldrums. I’m not sure how to move through the week without the sustenance of Sundays. My spirituality is centred on receiving God in the Eucharist and I feel strange and empty. Deprived even, of the guilt that comes with having willingly skipped mass. Guilt I can deal with. Gloom is harder to shift.
I try to practice spiritual communion, but I don’t understand it, and I have no peace to try. Sundays involve wrestling children to watch what seems like a tv programme that they don’t want to watch. I get it.
The third Sunday is different – we watch as our priest breaks bread, crowded around a laptop screen perched on the arm of the sofa. Then,
“Let’s get some bread and wine to share mummy”.
At first I tell him no, that we can’t have that bread and wine, the church bread and wine, body and blood here at home. That it’s not the same. But he goes anyway, returning with the stale-ish end of the loaf, smears of chocolate spread still left around his mouth from breakfast.
He hands it to us all, with open, sombre eyes, and a small serious voice “the body of Christ mummy”. I get him some wine, mixed with water, my mouth forming the prayer as I swirl the two, out of habit, or something.
“Mummy, what do you say when you give us the wine?”
“I say ‘the blood of Christ’ J, but this isn’t blood, it’s just wine, so shall we say ‘wine to remember’?”
“Ok. Wine to remember”.
He passes us all a sip, and through purple plastic I see my face reflected, as I do in the chalice.
The next week, I try to talk to him more, to explain that this wine isn’t blood, that we will only have the blood-wine in Church, but we can have this to help us remember. He accepts easily, what seems important-to-get-right to me doesn’t register in his lovely six-year-old soul. He’s never been called a heretic, after all.
So this is what we do. Week after week, the leftover toast bread and a tiny bit of wine. It doesn’t feel the same, it’s not the sacrament, but it doesn’t feel of nothing either. Between the simple words, and the sweet offering something is happening. It is not worship, but it keeps me afloat. It is literally “wine to remember”, not only with my mind, but calling into being the cells in my body, which are God’s cells.
After someone has carried and borne a child, the DNA of that child remains in the original body. A trace of a past life, a past communion. Parent and child are forever linked. This remembering wine reminds me of that, awaking and re-linking a past communion. Re-wiring my cells. Soothing my gloom.
I don’t know what it is, or what to call it. Floating somewhere between stale bread and sacrament. But it’s all we can do for now. Every week I say the same; “this isn’t what we have in church”, like a little mantra to keep my own espoused theology alive. And every week he replies, “I know mummy. When this is all over, we’ll go back to the green Church won’t we and have the church bread there”.
Yes sweetie, yes we will.