I run into her as I turn tail and head for a quiet corner, me a guest so grateful to be invited to this space where I know only my hosts and they within community have many relationships to warm themselves by, anxious to be out of the way and breathe a bit, this introvert wishing for the superhero trick of invisibility once again. Lanier Ivester is as lovely as her unique name portends, and when we find ourselves face to face in the theatre aisle which is my only path to a quiet corner she says hello, graciously inviting me into this circle which belongs to her, too, though I don't know it yet and hadn't heard of her work before (so grateful I have, now--find Lanier here). We circle, trading bits of our stories and selves, and looking back it's easy to see what we're doing, this dance old as the hills in my imagination, taking turns revealing ourselves, trying to see if any of our pieces match: we learn we are both writers; she tends goats and chickens on a farm and I miss the ones we had years ago; we both love England, though she from actual memory and I from afar. Somehow the conversation turns to the difficulties found in writing, or not writing, or wrestling words to the page or whatever it is we call this thing we do (or more often, don't do) and suddenly I am telling secrets, things I hadn't even said to myself though I'd pondered them many times.
I tell her how I love words but they feel scarce to me; how so many race through my mind in a day I seldom find time to catch and write them down and yet I'm sure there must be a limit to them somehow. Deep down I'm afraid there's no way I have more than a few good stories to share, a few good ideas happened upon, a few things to say worth anyone's time to read, that there's a quota and I'll quickly reach the end of mine. So perhaps the truth is that it's not merely a matter of all the *things* in the way of me actually writing--not just the kids and laundry and cooking begging doing--maybe I'm guarding my words jealously, hoarding ideas, afraid I'll be poorer for the pouring. She smiles and nods. I'm not alone, its seems, and I'm grateful as I walk away thinking I've found a new soul- friend.
Our church congregation took communion this past Sunday as we do every week, and as I stood in the crowd sharing this deep remembering and looking forward to Thanksgiving, the words washed over me again ... "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them (Mark 14:22-24). And the place Paul looks back and instructs the church ... "the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes." (1 Cor. 11:23-26). Do this in remembrance of Me ... whenever you eat this bread and drink the cup. When I read these words I can't help but believe that He was commanding more than ten minutes during a formal church service. The disciples, after all, were gathered in a candlelit upper room, feet freshly washed, reclining before a table laden with food, as they had done many other nights and would do many more nights in the future. "Whenever you eat this bread." How often do we eat bread? To me this statement expresses Jesus' intention for us that every meal is to be a reminder. Not just the nibble and sip at church, but every. single. time. Every time we gather to be nourished around a table, we are to remember.
Because we are prone to forget.
Ann Voskamp's new book, The Broken Way, reminds us of what happened in that room. Jesus gave thanks, and then He broke the bread so He could pass the pieces around. She reminds us that brokenness is an imperative step in the process--His as well as ours; that brokenness is the common thread of the human condition and if embraced and entered into wholeheartedly, a key to the healing of our world--just as Jesus intended. This passage left me undone ...
"In His last hours, in His abandonment, Jesus doesn't look for comfort or try to shield Himself against the rejection; He breaks the temptation to self-protect--and gives the vulnerability of Himself. In the sharp edge of grief, Jesus doesn't look for something to fill the broken and alone places; He takes and gives thanks--and then does the most counter-cultural thing: He doesn't keep or hoard or hold on--but breaks and gives away. In the midst of intimate betrayal, He doesn't defend or drown Himself in addicting distractions; He breaks and is given--He gives His life. Because what else is life-giving?"
He doesn't keep or hoard or hold on--but breaks and gives away. There's a lesson in there for me.
A lesson for all of us, perhaps, this Thanksgiving, as we gather around tables nationwide, with family and friends and neighbors who are themselves broken because they are human, who have perhaps broken us for the same reason ... to have the best and truest Thanksgiving doesn't require the best hospitality, the best china, the best recipes, the best decor, but a willingness to break open and give. Because this is how we remember best; the way we honor His broken -and -given -ness; by resisting the fear that we will run out. By denying the enemy's lie that our time, our love, our talents, our bread are limited--because we have come to know ours may very well be but His are not, and He has given us all things, swung the doors of heaven and the storehouses wide. Jesus has passed the broken pieces of Himself, His very body, round a table as big as the world for thousands of years and there is still more, always more, always enough.