Sunday, 25 October 2009

So I did sit and eat.

I realised, talking to Kathryn last night, that it would be a matter of when I decide to receive Communion, rather than if.

Put like that it didn't make much sense to wait. What would I wait for? Being ready? Being worthy? Isn't that somewhat missing the point? If a dear friend sees that you're hungry and invites you in for a meal, you don't stand around on the doorstep with your coat on, wondering if they really mean it.

I'd like to write that it was a profoundly moving experience, that there was some shift in perspective at that moment. That would be dishonest. It didn't feel all that different from my more usual going up and receiving a blessing, except that the wafer stuck to my teeth. I had the same feeling of slightly nervous apprehension beforehand, the same creeping focus on one moment and one moment only and forgetting everything but the presence of God, the same pounding heart afterward. I'd like to compare all the various sensations and ideas and thoughts, take things apart and analyze them until I can find out how this is actually any different, but I can't observe from a neutral position. There is no double-blind test for sacrament. It's as gloriously mundane as every other part of this sacramental world.

And yet... I can say I feel a little lighter, somehow, more buoyant. There's a great deal of relief in just giving in. There was no wondering afterward whether I should have taken part, no throbbing regret about not being able to trust, no wrestling with myself over whether I'd done the right thing. That much, at least, was easy, and I almost wonder what I waited so long for.

That's how I feel now, anyway. It will be interesting to see how I feel in a few days.


Ernest said...


Am I allowed a Wow! I hope so.

I had not anticipated that you would take Holy Communion so soon after your last post. How wonderful to be proven wrong.

We had communion by extension this morning as our Vicar is away and a Lay Minister took the service. The reality of receiving communion in a slightly different way, without the normal liturgy, makes it seem new all over again.

I find that going to church a little early, gives me some quiet and space to think and pray to put away the noise, worries and cares of the world and to be one with the Spirit, which I feel so often in our Churches.

Perhaps this makes me more receptive to both the liturgy, music and to receiving Holy Communion in a state of mind and heart, which permits me to receive communion in real joy and wonder each time.

In some senses I envy your much deeper thinking and longings, which have led you thus far, it makes me wonder is my faith in some way shallow and on the surface?

But when I know that the whole core of my being is involved in the love and worship of he, who sacrificed himself to redeem my sins, I know that it is not.

Your journey continues to move you onwards in the footsteps of Jesus, a journey for life with many stages and diversions, I hope that you remember this occasion as one step of many to come.

Song in my Heart said...


Yes, you are allowed a "Wow!". I wasn't sure myself, though I figured it was a strong possibility even on Thursday.

I don't perceive any shallowness in your faith. You might have a simpler, more direct idea of some concepts I struggle with, but that isn't the same as shallowness.

I think I will remember this occasion. And I know the journey is hardly begun.

I've been going to church early to rehearse the choir and put my music and thoughts in order. I'm usually the first one there. I find that putting on the choir gown and surplice does bring a certain focus: at that point I am done with being a music teacher or a performer and I am there to worship God and to lead others in that worship.

Thanks again.

Kathryn said...

Blessed George Herbert and I are exulting together,
"Let all the world in every corner sing"

UKViewer said...


Nice to meet another George Herbert fan:


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Ah, my dear angry Lord,
Since thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
Sure I will do the like.

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve;
And all my sour-sweet days
I will lament and love.

George Herbert

MadPriest said...

Brilliant! But do bear in mind that the word "communion" means just that. It is not all about "me." So don't always expect a buzz yourself but always expect that you partaking in the communion may be integral to someone else getting a buzz.

Song in my Heart said...


My feelings, perceptions and reason are very important when I make decisions -- I certainly don't trust others' instructions enough to rely on them. I can only experience the world as myself! But as a musician I value practice and I know that there will be days when I just don't feel like it or somehow can't connect. When that happens in the practise room, the answer initially is to keep working anyway. Usually the feeling will pass. If it persists or worsens, it is worth looking to see if I might need to approach things differently... But most of the time it's just that I'm tired or hungry or in pain or any number of other things which will be resolved in a matter of hours or days and which won't get much worse and may be ignorable if I keep practising, whereas not practising will _always_ worsen any sense of disconnection or isolation from the music, or the worries about competence which often underly my apathy. Practising even when I don't think I feel like it makes me far more likely to enjoy it, and tends to boost the number of days I do feel like it. Sometimes the temporary factors are too much and it's better to rest, but I find it safest to err on the side of action. I can always stop if it's really bad, and at least I'll know I tried.

Of course, as a musician I also understand a thing or two about communal actions. Where practising on my own has some flexibility in terms of the "feel like it" factor but is ultimately more constructive if I keep at it, similarly I can blow off a rehearsal with others now and again but if I do, everyone loses out. The entire ensemble suffers, the quality is noticeably poorer, if one person is absent from every rehearsal! So I try to only miss rehearsals if I am genuinely incapable of participation.

I am not under the impression that the Eucharist will be different than other things I practice. I expect there will be times when it is a joy, times when it feels like hard work, times when it doesn't feel like much of anything. I wouldn't have taken it if I didn't think I could handle at least some of that, and that is part of why I did wait and reflect and pray so much first. I suspect that if it is right for me, it will "grow on me" over time; if it does not I shall have to re-examine my reasoning and perceptions, not only my feelings.

If at times I am unable to recognise something as holy, that doesn't mean it isn't, but rather that my vision is flawed. I will endeavour, should I experience such numbness to the Eucharist, to remember its communal nature. We are one body, because we share in one bread.

Thank you for the reminder.

it's margaret said...

Welcome home, Song.

There will always be a place for you at the table, no matter what! We are indeed, one body because we share one bread.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you, Margaret.

Ernest said...


I was thinking of you this week, when I attended Holy Communion on Tuesday, and then took Communion out to people in a Care Home.

Some of these ladies, (no men?) were in their late nineties and had perhaps very little time left and many were quite frail and unwell.

The thing that shines through from them is their enduring faith and belief and joy at receiving communion.

The service is simple and has the opportunity for them to sing two hymns. We take piped music and they are able to sing with a surprising clarity and strength of voice, which frankly puts me to shame.

One lady, has been a musician all of her life and lives in the home surrounded by musical instruments (all keyboard related). Despite her immobility, after the service she insisted on playing for us, and gave a very commendable performance, on a small organ, which must have caused her pain and discomfort, but her pride in her musicianship and that she was giving others joy, was lovely to see and to be part of.

I can see what a great part of her life music has been, and obviously, is for you to. Music and Singing as very much part of Christian Worship, which I am only really coming to appreciate now, much to late to really do anything about it, apart from learning to sing properly.

Your joy in music comes across to me as a great Gift from God, which he is calling you to use, so your participation in Church is really wonderful.

Your Church is the better for having you as part of the community.

Song in my Heart said...

Thanks, Ernest.

It is never too late to sing! And never think that your best singing is in any way shameful: to the One who matters, it is the song of a much-beloved child. By all means learn to sing "properly", whatever that means, but it's more important to sing than to be good at singing.

Music is indeed a very important part of who I am. Yesterday I was visiting Leafy Suburb Church which meant I got to spend most of the day singing or visiting with very shiny people. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.