I can’t name the day or the hour, but without even noticing, I am alive again.
It is subtle. I walk to campus as I always do. Usually, I think: I rehearse the comments I made in class, the deadlines, the to-dos, the shoulds, the things that could go wrong. But one day I realize it as I walk: I am thinking of nothing. I feel sun, I see houses and budding trees, I hear cars and children. The swirling thoughts, the trickster have left me. For a moment, I am alone with God in God’s world. Thank you, I say.
I begin to laugh at the lies. I read my scholarly theologian Bible, and I start to paint a self-portrait. I am no imposter, I tell myself. I am God’s craftsmanship, God’s poem, made for good works. I am no failure. I am a saint. I shine like a star in the world. I am not too damaged, too broken. I do not have a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love.
I am invited to give a sermon, and I write it for the first time without crying. I write for ten hours, and then I speak. I do it again, and again, and again. “You have a gift,” they tell me. “That was for me,” they tell me, and they wipe away tears. I smile, and I shiver at the holy moment. I believe them.
I put down the worry. I drive through the red rock of Utah and pitch a tent with Bonnie, and we hike in silence at the glory of it all. I put down the self-hate. I lie in bed, snuggled against my husband, our kitten at our feet, and I listen to them both breathe. I look over my shoulder, and I look ahead. I can see the other side of this sadness.
I go to church, and I put out my hands. It feels natural. The sort of thing I have always done, except I do not hold out good grades or excellent sermons or beautiful prayers or delicious cookies or wonderful listening skills. I hold out my empty hands, like a beggar, to God.
And I listen, to an old, old story, one I’ve heard so many times that it’s in my bones. While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after he blessed it, he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body.”
As I walk forward, I make a cross over my body. Head, chest, shoulder, shoulder. I claim myself for God, for life, like a newly discovered country.
I am like everyone around me. There is nothing I can bring. When they give me a scrap of bread to dip in wine, I remember. I am a creature. I am dust. And I am loved beyond measure.
I hold out my empty hands and receive this communion. Not just in the bread, but in the hands that clasp mine as I cry. In the bodies that embrace me. In the people that tell me that they would rather be with me in my emptiness than anything else.
They tear off a hunk of bread, and they say my name. This is no symbol; it is sustenance. My empty hands are full.
I can taste my healing. I walk to the other side.
This post is part of a series, 31 Days of Healing. Check out Day 1 or the complete list of posts. If you want to follow along with the blog, you can also subscribe by email or subscribe in a feed reader. Or “like” the blog on Facebook. (We’re all about options here.) And thanks for reading!