Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Exodus 16: 1-17:

The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” 6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8And Moses said, “When the gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the LordLord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but” against the Lord. 9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’“ 10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“ 13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’“ 17The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less.

Our Old Testament reading Sunday at Trinity was from this set of passages. I had no idea it was going to lead to an "intense Eucharistic experience."

Okay, I have to give a bit of a prelude. For the three Sundays prior to this past one I have literally “disappeared” in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer and sort of snapped back to reality right after the Words of Institution. I was a little bugged by it but not distressed. The place where I felt I was seemed okay, in fact it seemed a little “buoyant” for lack of a better term. I guess the way to describe it was I sort of felt like maybe I was just getting behind and under the words, in a very “flowing” sort of place, and for that reason, I had pretty much decided that, although it bugged me some that I was not paying attention, it was ok that I was “where I was.” I just kind of accepted the “absence” as an “excused absence”, so to speak. I'm pretty sure God grants "excused absences."

Well, then Sunday I was in a pretty good and receptive mood for church. On Saturday I had written my “Order of Service for Doing the Laundry.” I have come to learn that when I am doing stuff like that, it shows that I am relaxed and comfortable, and “at play in the fields of the Lord,” and in a way, really listening to a different part of God. When I make funny liturgical satire, I realize I am sort of allowing myself to fall into the cadence and the rhythm of liturgy, even when I am physically away from liturgy.

I am starting to realize I have a sense of “cadence.” I thought some Saturday about how maybe this is part of understanding the “Cadence of God,” and how when I am dealing with my own anxieties and impatience and “hating surprises” that I need to connect to the “cadence of God” and just follow along. I mean, what was the first thing I picked up on at the monastery? The CADENCE of the chanted psalms.

Well, then I realized something was going on when we started singing the offertory hymn. I normally don’t even LIKE the offertory hymn we had Sunday, "I Am the Bread of Life"--it’s one the fundies sing with drums and weird instruments and a weird beat, and it’s one the Roman Catholics sing in what I refer to as "crappy old hippy 70's throwback guitar masses." But there was something with “our organ” doing it that stirred something up in me. I found myself actually HEARING the words of each verse and what I heard was choking me up and causing some tears. But then I would get to the chorus, “...and I will raise you up...” and suddenly I was singing in what I call “The actually very good, large booming contralto-damn-near-baritone resonant voice I get on certain songs, but not most of them” voice, and I just didn’t care who was sitting next to me or in front of me or behind me and I realized I was singing only to God from the deepest recesses of my heart, praising him for his power to “raise me up” again and again from my shit pit of despair, and singing of my gratitude for these promises. I just closed my eyes and boomed the chorus, and just let myself choke up on the verses.

Then I glanced out of the corner of my eye during one of the choruses, and OMG! My pew-mate, a good friend of mine was crying! And her husband was patting her on the back! And I am thinking, “WTF? Is what I’m doin'...is it leaking out? Is there something about just this pure feeling I am having that can be felt by others?” But I didn’t stop. I kept going. Couldn't stop, actually.

Then during the Eucharistic Prayer (EP-A, by the way), I heard every word and almost every word flashed a mental image on every one of my “cue phrases” (all the phrases at one time or another have put a chill down my spine,) for instance, “and on the last day,” or “we celebrate the memorial of our redemption”--all mental images of...well...eternity...more or less. AND I FELT EVERY ONE OF THEM. I thought about those little white flakes of “the bread of heaven” from the reading in Exodus.
It was more...well...vivid...than I had ever experienced.

When it was time to go to the rail, and get the wafer, I had another odd experience. It didn’t taste like a wafer. My mind was tasting something soft and sweet but my brain KNEW it was a wafer.
I thought of v. 31 in the chapter above...The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. The wine tasted more “vivid” too. And I know it’s the same old cheap port we always use!

Then as I walked back, I was thinking, “You know, this is the first time I have been able to just stand still and take in an “intense Eucharist” without going “ohshitohshitohshitohshit” and backing off and wanting to run. I have felt "intense Eucharist" before, but honestly, it mostly just scared me. Made me feel like a crazy person. It took me a long time to realize this is not "abnormal."

It stuck with me all day; I think that is why I could “see immortality” Sunday night with the sun and the moon out simultaneously. I have been so far all week (despite having an anxious moment at 3:30 a.m.) been able to see “gratitude” in so many things. Now, I know it will wear off after a while. But I also believe it will hit me again on a day I least expect it. Sunday’s Eucharist gave me a power in the sense of “I believe this stuff; I truly believe this stuff” that I have not had to this degree until now. It was what gave me the "where-with-all" to write Sunday's blog post.

I know this will wear off in a few days. Every great spiritual experience I have does, and I believe that is just the nature of it. But for the first time, I anticipate the next one rather than fear it.

5 comments:

I still get feelings and have experiences like these frequently while I am at the altar. I am constantly amazed at how our Eucharistic prayers all have so much in them that ties together the rest of the liturgy, scripture, hymns, and prayers together.

It is always a privilege as well as an incredibly intense experiences to preside at Eucharist. There are certain times, however, when I am a member of the congregation in my church in DE when I have had similar experiences. When everything works together - liturgy, hymns, scripture - it's a very powerful experience.

Kirke, the mystic. This sort of experience is familiar to me. It's awesome - not in the slangy way - but awe-inspiring to get into the spirit of the songs and words of prayer and have the sense of wanting to go up.

The experiences puzzle me, but they never frighten me. I always thought that they were a foretaste of immortality, a peak into the heavenly places.

Kirke, you make more sense in your eloquent description of the experiences, whereas I sound like an actual crazy person, so enough. But I know what you mean.

Thanks, y'all. It helps to realize this is not a singular experience...and Mimi, I'm blushing that you're calling me a "mystic."

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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