The second day of Advent yesterday, and our plans to do home communions all shot to hell thanks to the monster snow and ice storm that stretched across half the country. But for our own reasons we decided to take P. communion, in the bluster and snow and ice. She greeted us with bright eyes... they brightest they've been in weeks. We spoke for a few moments, and she shared with us about some visitors she'd had earlier in the day, and her recollection was perfect (there's a sign in sheet). I read from Isaiah, and we shared communion.
While chewing the bread, P. struggled a bit. A small morsel... the size of a dime, maybe... fell out of her mouth and onto her dressing gown. I picked it up with a Kleenex and put it in my pocket.
Later, at the church for a meeting, I found the tissue. I didn't want to throw it away. I looked at the small bit of bread that had fallen out of P.'s mouth, and it felt sacred. I'm not of a tradition with a high Eucharistic theology, but I do have great reverence for the sacrament. I should say, I'm in awe of it. I believe it is beyond our comprehension, and we stand in the middle of deep mystery every time we celebrate it. I could not throw this piece of bread, which was not only our communion in the body of Christ, but also was a part of P., even through she couldn't swallow it. Her mouth had held it; she had chewed it; it had briefly been a part of her fragile body. Finally, after a few moments, I stepped out into the swirling snow. I found a place beneath the bushes where the squirrels often shelter. I left it there for them.