We sit fidgeting in our pews as the pastor invites us to take communion.
He stands behind the table laden with bread and juice and tells us that we are all welcome to partake of them as a means of drawing near to God.
Sometimes, but not always, he says the words that resonate in my brain long after they are intoned — so much so that I say them to myself even when he does not.
There is room at the table for all who are hungry.
About six months ago, I stumbled into a small-ish Presbyterian church sincerely questioning whether, in fact, there was room at the table for me.
I was struggling with spotty mental health and a spate of recent frustrating experiences with my faith, both within myself and with church as a whole. The combination of those things left me feeling, frankly, unwanted and unwelcome in the church.
Not with my questions. Not with who I was.
I’m sure part of that was the distorted emotions caused by the aforementioned spotty mental health, but I wasn’t really healthy enough to sort all of that out at the time. All I knew then was that my sense of reality was crumbling, that I wasn’t sure what I believed anymore and that I needed a safe place to figure things out.
So I found myself sitting in the back of this church, too anxious and tired to really do much other than hope someone would notice me. And to my great relief, they did notice me, and they seemed to care that I was there. And they seemed to care about other people, too.
I kept showing up, though I mostly just sat in the back for the first few months because I was weary and tired and didn’t have the energy to do much else. I have learned in periods of my own struggle that even if you can’t do anything else, you can make yourself show up and wait for something to happen. I wonder if perhaps that’s a more accurate depiction of what faith is.
Eventually things in my brain settled down, and I could think clearly enough to start seeing a way forward with my own interior life. And I kept showing up to this church where I felt noticed, where I finally felt safe.
On the first Sunday of the month, we take communion. The pastor welcomes all of us to participate. He speaks the words I spent so much time sitting in churches longing to hear over the past few years, but that were never spoken.
This is my body. This is my blood. Remember.
There is a rhythm to the words that quiets me, that grounds me back to reality, even on days when I’m still not totally sold on reality being a thing.
We pass the bread and the cups through the pews, and we eat and drink. We say the words to each other, to remember.
Everyone is welcome at the table.
These days, I’m finally starting to think again that there might still be room for me.