In life there are these thin spots. They are times in which the veil between heaven and earth becomes stretched so thin that the translucence means that one may almost see from earth to the other side. No one knows what heaven is and yet how could we so long for it were we not somehow programed to desire it?
For me the closest thing I have experienced in life to what I imagine to be heaven is a great dinner with friends. We all arrive. We are all in various forms of disarray. One has had a great day. One had had a terrible day, Two others had days mixed with some successes and some failures. One has spent the day off reading and having a massage. Another just got off a dull, fifteen-hour shift and is hoping the one who had a good day eats so much that they are too busy eating to be anything but quiet about their “great day!”
Some are on the verge of tears. Some are on the edge of laughter. Some have hearts about to break with joy for all God has provided in their lives and others have the two halves of their heart wrapped in duct tape – a temporary fix to what seems broken forever.
When I left New Hampshire the one person who knew me the best said to me “I hope you find, after all your dinner parties at this farmhouse, that in Colorado, they cook for you.” I have found that kind of generosity here. I did not know it was what I longed for, but God knew. Prayers I could not even find words for, have been answered.
When we go to a warm, kind home for a dinner in which we all roll up our sleeves and help prepare the food together in a kitchen filled with reaching arms, simmering pots, cutting boards and longing hearts, we are in a kind of Eucharist. When we are at a table or on a carpet breaking crusty, hot bread and sipping wine with tears of joy and grief about life as we tell our stories, we are at a kind of Eucharist. When we let a group of our friends hold us in our disappointment until the sun comes out again we are in a kind of Eucharist. And they all, it seems to me, feel connected to the Eucharist we come to at church – where we tell a story, take, eat, drink, thank and hope.
I am not sure what Jesus envisioned when he asked us to re-tell the story around bread and wine. But what I do know is that implanted inside that act is a sliver of heaven- of Kingdom. And that that Kingdom is here, now. And that friendship over a good meal and great conversation about our longings is as close to that Kingdom as I have ever found myself.