Monday, June 4, 2018

eucharistic restrictions

I received Holy Communion at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in downtown Denver, on a street where the skyscrapers block out the ubiquitous mountains. Muscles in my thumb throb, tendons complaining overmuch about the usual tasks. My mind is mostly occupied with that. Odd where our imaginations wander when our bodies are stilled in prayer.
As the sweet host—sturdier bread than usual—melts on my tongue, into my heartbeat, I think of the dream I had, its details softened into the atmospheric haze of nights melting together, that I was almost on the road to Nablus. My hands full, as they usually are before entering a vehicle, about to step into the white Toyota Corolla, I stopped myself, as I remembered I was wearing shorts. I realized I absolutely could not walk into this conservative town with those on.

My lips have been chapped, and my mouth dry. But it started to water, thinking of the sweet knafeh that was only a car-ride away, if only I could find the proper attire.

I thought of all the hills of Samaria I forgot to take pictures of, covered in the richness of growing olives and tough grasses. I thought of the sunlight hitting Mount  Gerizim.

These were so close, but so impossibly far.

Is this, I wondered one of those exterior molding forces I’ve been told about? To be stopped in your tracks by restrictions outside of your control?

We undeniably leave people that we love, and desert places which have brought us home to ourselves. We are certainly separated from them, the pain of that separation fuels most of my activity—airplane travel, to find my way to their physical sides; conversation, to build a thousand bridges between their thoughts and mind; writing, to try to hold onto all the moments which inevitably slip quietly into the deep sea of what is permanent and inaccessible inside of us.

But they are never quite left behind. The people and places you love rise up to greet you, like the tops of stone buildings above undulating highways. Small patches of brush in the Rockies’ foothills remind you of Mount Tabor, the new verbal tics you have developed trace your journey through various dialects and others’ hearts. They continually manifest themselves in the world around you, cheeky sacraments of what is beloved, whose absence ascends into some new kind of presence. Felt in the quiet breath of wind at sunset, in a new construction of our mental topographies and verbal maps, in strange liturgies of memory which bring into the present what has past into a future already-but-not-yet.

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