I was reading the New Yorker magazine this morning and came across a poem by Philip Schultz called Bleecker Street. The poet is on his way down Bleecker Street to get a hazelnut espresso latte. It's June and the street is alive in a way that transcends time. He sees and describes the present day activities of stores, teenagers talking on cell phones, and a woman getting stopped by the police. All of this is in "real time." But he also sees the cellars of stores where runaway slaves were housed, the couple having their first kiss, victory parades with confetti; and so much more of the "inner life and hidden life" that cities have.
He is describing, I think, the way we are meant to experience the Eucharist on Sunday mornings. We see the priest standing behind the altar with silver Chalice and Paten gleaming in the morning light; and we also see the rough hewn wooden table covered with hand woven cloth. Around that table a group of disciples face the one person they love more than themselves. And he is offering them a cup of wine and a piece of bread. He calls it "his body and blood" and forever it will be that. It is meant to sustain them through the coming ordeals of life. Sustenance for life and death, real food for this present life and the life to come. I see the tears glinting in their eyes as they receive this bread and wine because they know that they will never be at this table together in the same way. Life is precariously drawn. And those drawn lines get blurred by jealousy, and frustration; by anger and self-pity. We turn away from each other as soon as we walk away from the table where we sat talking about the way we are "one." And so I loved these lines in Schultz's poem:
"Perhaps everyone secretly admires
something momentous about himself,
with the mass and “inner life” of a cathedral,
in the tradition of the Spanish saints and mystics
who cherished the bliss of infinite sacrifice
We tend to cherish too much our sacrifices. So cherished are they for us that we beat each other over the head with them. Look at what I have given up for you. Look at what I have given up for God. Ah, the life of our inner cathedrals! And how that life goes on and on while we in "real time" walk down the streets of our lives.