Poem and Reflection by Julie Harrison Eastwood
Coracle Fellow, Class of 2019
Prepare the fields
lay them open and ready
to receive graft and seed
to be baptized with rain
as we wait
in the hospitable silence
Sing with the fields
greening in the golden light!
The fat grains burst their sheaths
and the grapes hang heavy and sweet!
Dance beneath the blue skies
on the warm earth
for we are all His and He made us
stone turns slow
as we wait
Blazing oven, silent cask
body torn, blood spilled
You are here
and we are new
You in us
us in You
• • • •
One of the greatest beauties of the Eucharist, to me, is how deeply sensory it is. In the moment of receiving, in the times of labor represented in that moment; with our human bodies we work and create and serve and take, eat, remember the body of our Creator who clothed Himself in body to be broken and served to us. Presence, comfort, rescue. Life.
With the body, soil is cleared of stones and weeds, seeds are folded into the black earth, hands are folded in prayer for rain and the miracle mystery of germination and growth. We wade in swaying grains, swinging the blade, collecting the grapes, sweating under the late summer sun.
Cut, thresh, grind.
Crush, ferment, bottle.
Stir, knead, shape.
Sticky dough, flour sprinkled on wooden board. The loaf is tucked in a well-oiled favorite pan, placed in a warm oven. Watch and smell as the dough rises, swells, toasts to the perfect creamy gold.
Hear the whisper of the bread as it is torn. Feel the little broken piece placed softly on open palms. Look into the eyes of the shepherd and listen to the ancient words. Take, eat the broken body, be nourished, remember. The breath catches in the throat with wonder and gratitude.
Music of a popped cork, scent of a summer story, the wine slips and splashes from bottle to cup.
Receive the sweet wine lifted to thirsty lips, served, shared with the awe and a blessing.
He gave everything and the gift won’t be contained. Season after season, harvest after harvest, generation after generation of farmers, laborers, vintners, bakers, priests, cupbearers and bread-breakers… His family expands and the weary receive life, the hungry are nourished, the glad rejoice and the mourners are comforted. As I receive the bread, I am overwhelmed by the tenderness and love and care that could only be Christ in the servant, and deeply satiated in a way that could only be Christ the Bread. When I’ve had the honor of serving the cup, I’ve nearly always been brought to tears with the wonder of being a medicine-bearer, to hold the cup and pour out life and love to my sisters and brothers. Elderly widows, strong and square-shouldered men, radiant and exhausted young mamas with wiggly little ones in tow, little ones on tiptoe!, awkward and beautiful middle-schoolers, everyone in between, all my family for the cup we share. This brotherhood warms me like the wine.
As I’ve worked through this Fellows year, I’ve wondered about the invitation of Eucharist in my life. I think what I’ve noticed surfacing this past year, likely for much longer, is a Eucharist desire to clear away. Like soil readied for seeds. Like a table set and ready for bread and wine. Like the emptiness I bring to the table, the beautiful sweet confoundingly simple hunger that only the Body and Blood will satisfy.
As in confession, a release of clutter and false gods and their shallow promises of fast and temporary comfort. Let the burden roll away! Far away! It was paid for long ago. Clear the desk, empty the shelves, carefully choose only the most excellent and delightful tools and materials. Set the table and open the windows and doors. Share generously and wait with expectation for the Presence.
The earth is His and everything in it, yet the materials He entrusts us with to bake and ferment and serve and share. In this bread and wine, we find Him. Source and end.
The bread and wine we eat and drink, He inhabits. He lives — in us! Spirit of Christ, live in the work of my hands! May the sweetness of your aroma linger in line and color and phrase and crumb and embrace and smile. And as my strength and energy and inspiration fade, be stronger, brighter, ever increasing, ever nearer. How fast we blossom and fade, but You never change, never fail, never stop inviting us to Your table.