Sunday, 29 September 2013

Consider the meerkat...at communion

'Sandy the meerkat ponders philsophy and theology'
Having just come back from a training conference, one session of which featured reflections upon communion...the things they don't teach you whilst ministry-training.

A placement several years ago...

It was Holy Week.
A Maundy Thursday communion at 'Fishing Parish'
My supervisor and I had co-written a liturgy woven through with reflective story and silence.
Communion was to be distributed, after which, once the elders had brought back the plates bearing bread and the wine cup dispenser, I was to lead us off into a time of intecessory prayer.
All was going well.
The initial hustle and bustle and busyness of the day that folk had brought into worship with them gradually ebbed away;
a holy hush filled the worship space.
The elders began to come forward after distributing the bread and wine.
As I leant down from my chair to retrieve my notes...
I slipped.
An audible gasp from the body of the Kirk.
Falling heavily on my hand, I winced in pain, but remained silent as I picked myself up quickly from the floor.
As I began to go into shock, my voice wavered as I uttered the words in a small voice:
'lllet uus prrray...'
I saw the visible swelling of my hand;
found it nearly impossible to turn the pages in my notepad.
The wavering prayers finished,
the last hymn was sung.
Blessing.
Dismissal.
At the door, the pain now almost unbearable with each handshake.
Back in the vestry - ice was seen to be needed.

Easter Sunday morning.
I arrived in the church hall, and saw three members of the choir giggling.
Seeing me, they suddenly looked...like naughty schoolkids who'd been caught by the bikesheds having a crafty fag.  [to my N. American friends - a sneaky cigarette!!]
I had a strong suspicion I knew what they had been giggling about.
I wandered over and, deciding to tease them, with the aid of a judiciously raised eyebrow I asked them if they might care to share the joke.
They guiltily confessed that indeed, they had been giggling about Thursday's mishap;
bu they hadn't meant to be mean.
I grinned - to their visible relief.
Of course it had been awful, but it was a ridiculous thing to have happened and I saw the funny side, etc. 
They gave an account of how they saw the whole thing happen.
'Well, one minute you were there behind the communion table...
and then suddenly, you disappeared...
and, well, we've never seen you move so quickly:
next minute all we saw was your wee head pop up from behind the table like...
like a...'
they stumbled to find the right word.
I looked at them, grinned and said:
'a meerkat?'
'Yes!'
We all giggled.
They then did have the grace to ask how my poor mangled hand was.

Several weeks later, on my last Sunday of the placement, the choir called me over before worship.
'We wanted to say goodbye and to give you a wee present' said one - who had been involved in the Easter Sunday conversation. 
A slight awkwardness, sense of naughtiness, and fumbling for words.
'We know you have a good sense of humour, so we are hoping you take our present in the way it is intended...'
The card and present was duly handed over.
Lovely wishes on the card.
Grins all 'round when I opened the present to discover:
a plushy meerkat with my clan tartan scarf.

But tell me: why didn't the training to be a minister manual have an entry re. 'what to do in case of falling off seat at communion and spraining your hand'?  It would have made what I experienced just that little less traumatic...jus' sayin'.

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