Bread and wine: ordinary objects grown from seed and ground; plucked from tall vines and pressed into bottles and jars. Yet when, by the breaking of himself, Jesus took, blessed, broke, and gave that bread and wine they became extraordinary. Objects of wonder and communion so abundant that they are offered to all.
Last Thursday night, at the delightful Clare College Theologians’ dinner, I heard Rowan Williams speak. He spoke of his theological influences and interests – of love, death, and sacrament, and of the poets and thinkers who have inspired his faith. Dylan Thomas’ poem ‘This bread I break’ was among those mentioned: Rowan explained that through Thomas’ words he came to realise that everything is sacrament, a gift through which, moment by moment, we can discover communion with God.
This whole world and our experience of it – given and broken open to reveal wonder and communion.
I think of how true this is as I wander through the rainy and nearly deserted Botanical Gardens. I pause to stare at the intense purple of a lone plant among the spring green; I smooth my hand along the striped, bronze branches of a Tibetan cherry tree; my nose catches the falling drops of rain from clusters of pink blossom. I even press my ear to (what I think is) a silver birch, because I’ve heard that when you do that you can hear the sap moving through the trunk. I think I just caught the sound – someone once said that it sounds like a Victorian plumbing system running through an old vicarage. What a wonder-full image!
All of these pauses allow moments and materiality to break open and reveal wonder and communion. Wonder at the wild world we live in; communion with the Wilder One who made it.
And this is not just true of moments with Tibetan cherry trees and silver birches. When broken open, moments with people shine with the glory of that same wonder and communion. I catch the light in your eyes and see the Father who made you and loves you and brings you joy.
We can choose to live this way, looking for the wonder in moments broken open. We can choose to live given; we can choose to live with ourselves broken open so that, through us, others may see wonder and communion too. We can choose to live given and serving and loving.
And this is what I choose to grow in this term, I pray. To live given, sacramentally, incarnationally. Because that’s how Jesus lives, and that’s how God’s light breaks into darkness – breaks into the ordinary to reveal the wonder and communion of his extraordinary love.
I’ll finish with the words of a friend singing worship next to me on Saturday morning. One of her phrases stuck with me: ‘you shatter the darkness’. God shatters, breaks open, and breaks into darkness, making every place extraordinary. You shatter the darkness – and you invite us to live given so that we can illuminate the ordinary with you.
Soundtrack: a stunning, new-ish song that Spotify introduced me to this morning, Steffany Gretzinger’s ‘Blackout’.