Seeing Poetry in the Communion Line Seeing Poetry in the Communion Line

I find myself in each of their faces as they shuffle forward.

The bored teenagers dragging their feet, nervously straightening their hair, pretending they don’t care who’s watching. They practically snatch the host from the minister’s hand and duck their heads as they round the corner back to their seats. Theirs is self-conscious distraction.

The small children tottering behind their parents, bumping into the backs of strangers’ legs, weaving as they wander. They stop suddenly in front of the priest, surprised to find him bending down to bless them. As gentle hands guide them back to the pew, they crane their necks around, staring back at what just happened. Theirs is innocent wonder.

The single ones, those who come alone, who slip in the back, focused on the Mass, not distracted by those around them, too often lost amongst the crowd. They approach the altar with a patient step, waiting to be welcomed. Theirs is solitary encounter.

The grey-haired church ladies, composed as the smooth collars on their jackets, well-coiffed curls of white bobbing down the aisle. They meet the eyes of the minister with familiar welcome, greet the Christ they know as companion. Theirs is longtime friendship.

The frazzled forty-somethings, herding flocks of kids, moms dressed in sports team sweatshirts, dads in jeans to coach when Mass is done. Their steps are hurried, flustered, grateful for the pause but already moving to the next. Theirs is hungry nourishment.

The brand-new parents, mothers cradling a sleeping newborn in aching arms, fathers with a baby propped awkwardly over their shoulder. They lean forward to receive on the tongue, their hands now occupied with a new calling. Theirs is quiet gratitude.

The aged men stooped over canes with tired gait, shuffling carefully, slowing the rhythm of the line behind them. They cup their hands with a struggle and a sigh as they take and eat. Theirs is anticipated release.

I find myself in each of them: who I once was, what I will become. I wonder how I look when I bow my head, when I raise my hands, when I look into the eyes that offer bread or cup, when I whisper “Amen” to words of declaration of my Lord.

Am I tired? Bored? Distracted? Focused? Hungry? Hoping?

Every week a little different, I decide. Every Mass a fresh encounter.

I watch them all in the communion line, a long trail of those who belong to God, who come each week to remember and receive. For a flash of an instant, I see us as God sees us: so different, so similar, all wrapped in love and forgiveness. All of us coming forward to encounter the same Christ. This is the power of sacrament. This is the love in communion.

Here we are, I wonder. The Body of Christ. Blessed and broken, gathered and shared.

Here we are, I remember. We become what we receive.

Copyright 2013 Laura Kelly Fanucci