I don’t function much in religious circles these days. However, a weird series of flashbacks culminating in an almost tangible visit from a long passed-away lady made me reach for the internet once again.
When I say that I don’t function in religious circles these days, I mean to say that I no longer attend church regularly. It is true that I had an invitation last December to play at one of the Christmas services in the next village. I would have liked to have been able to oblige too but an harmonium and one at that with a pink and sick y-looking mushroom growing out of the lid killed the spirit within me there and then.
But back to the unearthly and I found out in no short time that the church of my youth was about to close. One side of my family was married, christened and worshipped there. I was there too and so, I decided set out to visit it for one last time. Choosing a midweek morning service seemed the correct thing to do and in the end, it was.
We followed Communion from the Book of Common Prayer (1928). We heard what comfortable words were said by Jesus; we made no presumption upon our own righteousness and we listened to the unequivocal and uncompromising language of that book and the genuine sense therein.
Communion in such a small group made the symbolic real and relevant. At once I was part of the continuity that I had formerly left and I was back home with my own ground; standing on the earth I once trod and simultaneously remembering those souls who had gone before. Truly it was in remembrance, just as the Prayer Book says. It was a shared experience and one we are exhorted to share.
Sitting and talking over coffee afterwards, it felt so normal to have gone there and joined in and recalled people and events.
As a child and young adult, I never felt this. Maybe the experience was wasted on me back then. The relevance is to the older person; the form you learn as a child bears its weight in adulthood and the value of the ability to partake is its own reward.
Make, do and share.
It makes life better.
I remembered Chaucer too that day, so I quote him:
“Now preye I to hem alle that herkne this litel tretys or rede,
that if ther be any thyng in it that liketh hem,
that therof they thanken oure Lord Jhesu Crist, of whom al wit and al goodnesse.
And if ther be any thyng that displese hem, I preye hem that they arrette it to the defaute
of myn unkonnynge and nat to my wyl, that wolde ful fayn seyd bettre if I hadde had konnynge“. (Part of Chaucer’s Retraction)