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The Lines

by on March 11, 2019


Every week they form a line

to receive from me

“The Bread of Life”


“The Cup of Salvation”

My hands are squeaky clean

like a doctor’s in the examining room

as I dispense medicine for the soul.

Many receive as a matter of course.

Most respond

“Thanks be to God”

and that out of habit.

Such is the danger of weekly Communion.

But others receive with joyful tears

or reverence

or humble gratitude

and say

“God’s grace for me”


“The presence of God”


“Forgiveness for my sin”


nothing at all.

This week they formed a line

to receive words of judgment

“Remember you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.”

I have the thumb of a mechanic

black greasy ash fills the space between my flesh and nail

as I cross each forehead

with the fact of our mortality.

Some respond

“Thanks be to God”

probably out of habit

perhaps to expedite the anxious moment

or maybe because mortality is the good news to end their suffering.

I am startled by the response of one:

“God have mercy upon me.”

Such is the danger of speaking the truth.

From → Poetry

One Comment
  1. HELEN L BROCKMAN permalink

    My response to receiving communion is always “Thanks be to God”. I don’t say it “out of habit”. I say it because I think they are appropriate words, thanking God for the gift of his Son and the reminder of that gift through receiving communion.

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