This is from www.wau.org Thought it was beautiful and wanted to share with you all today. HAVE A BLESSED AND SAFE THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE.
Thanksgiving Epiphany. Very early that morning, some impulse made me tiptoe downstairs to spy on my mother, who was already hard at work in the kitchen. When her back was turned, I darted inside and hid in the shadows under the table. (I realize now how strange that was, but having just come off a summer spent lurking behind bushes, it seemed perfectly normal to me at the time.)
Of seemingly small things can come life-changing illumination. So it is with this childhood memory. Ordinary as it all seemed, what I saw that morning and experienced later at our Thanksgiving dinner was a preparation for the Eucharistic banquet I would join in twenty-five years later.
Now, as an adult and a Catholic convert, I can recognize that all the elements of the Eucharist were present in our home that Thanksgiving: love, self-sacrifice, unity, forgiveness, fellowship, gifts, healing, and grace. Though I couldn’t have expressed this as a child of nine, I somehow knew I was seeing something that demanded my attention. And so I sat, tucking my freezing toes into the folds of my flannel nightgown—just to watch my mother work.
Her face was shiny and bare of makeup. She hadn’t yet done her hair or put on her good clothes or “company” apron. But she was more beautiful than I had ever noticed. She transcended her surroundings, and I suddenly saw her through new eyes. My mother filled our kitchen with warmth, light, love, and even music, as she sang softly to herself.
Her movements were a familiar ritual involving countertop and stove, spices, bowls, and wooden spoons. She fairly danced her way through her tasks, keeping one eye on the time and another on her preparations. She was in her element, and why not? She was the heart of our home and the organizer of every family celebration we ever had. She was her own person, certainly, but she was also the embodiment of every Thanksgiving and birthday I had ever known—a living cornucopia of joy, generosity, and good things.
Mystery of Love. I knew in a bit that I’d come out from my hiding place and she’d offer me a taste of whatever smelled so heavenly. For the moment, though, it was enough to hug to myself the knowledge that she was my mother. She was mine to love, as I was hers; we belonged to one another. So until she called me from the shadows, I watched her. In fact, I could not take my eyes away. I was, quite simply, love-struck.
So it has been with me at times during the celebration of the Eucharist. When I am truly present and open, Jesus is all I can see. He is in the wafer and the wine, in the face of my priest and my fellow parishioners, and in the meeting of their hands over the Host. And I am love-struck yet again, unable to look away from the beauty before me.
Instead of bowing my head over my usual conventional prayer, I watch the miracle unfold, drinking it in with grateful eyes. And for a fleeting moment, I have some dim grasp of the genesis of such a gathering among members of the Body of Christ. It is a banquet born of a love I am only able to comprehend partially—a love as overwhelming as the vast numbers of stars in the night sky, a love initiated and completed by the very One who fixed them there.
Like the sky itself, this love makes me feel insignificant and humble, but it also tells me that I am a precious part of something important, a cherished part of something blessed. This paradoxical love celebrates me as an individual, while it builds in me an acceptance and longing for the community of faith. Alone, I am beloved. With others I become part of the Beloved. Mystery within mysteries, love within love.
Everyday Mysteries. These days, I am the mom busy at the stove on holiday mornings, and my appreciation of the families God gives us to love and serve has deepened. My sisters and I were wrong, you see, in thinking that nothing mysterious ever happened on Route 257. Love happened, life happened, in all its complexity and all its mystery. In those mundane moments that make up our lives, we can see God shining through.
At least, that is what I have come to believe. The gift of the Eucharist is echoed in all our meals, the blessing of his love mirrored in the communion we share with one another every day. When we fight and make up, when one falls short and another forgives, when we delight in one another or take joy in our children or reach out to the least of us or do some self-sacrificing thing without resentment—then God is with us, and one with us.
He lives in the very pores of our skin, in the chambers of our hearts, in the work of our hands. His nature is revealed in the love we offer each other, whether we are at the kitchen table or gathered around the altar. In the end, Jesus uses all the “stuff” of our lives to come to us and abide in us. But he does even more than that!
Every day he gets up earlier than you and me. He puts on his working apron—not his company one—because we’re family. He goes out into his kitchen and fires up the great furnace of his heart. He sacrifices himself on our behalf—gives himself to prepare a banquet for us, sets a place for us at his table, and hovers by the door awaiting our arrival. Then we, his beloved, are ushered into fellowship, nourishment, warmth, light, healing. The table is set with unimaginable bounty, with warm bread and sweet wine, and he is there, welcoming us home.
This is the mystery I sought so long ago, the one I glimpsed in my mother’s face: my first clue of God’s great sacrificial love for me.
Lord Jesus, I am not worthy to come out from the shadows beneath my kitchen table. But if you only say the word, I will come and sit next to my brothers and sisters at yours.
Renee S. Caserta lives in Marion, Ohio.