Simon Mein has taken a comment from my telling him of an incident on the St. Peter's Youth (SPY) group trip to Navajoland and build a remarkable reflection on it. Sweat and Water…Blood & Wine opens out into a short and very interesting commentary on the sacred character of water and its parallel to the sacred character of blood / wine. He also affirms in a deeper way my sense that what we did was in order and deeply sacramental.
I have not reported on this Eucharist of bread and water on Preludium, so here it is:
On Sunday, July 4th, we were planning to go to Fort Defiance and to Good Shepherd Mission for Church, hoping it would be the Eucharist. However, plans are always a bit fluid and it became apparent on Saturday that everyone was pooped and needed time to settle into our new campsite at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona, a long way from Fort Defiance. So we decided on Saturday to stay at the camp site and do some low key hiking and seeing the ruins in the Canyon. In this change of plans we decided to have Eucharist together about 4 PM at our camp.
I had not planned on having to bring bread and wine on the trip for Eucharist, so there was none. Getting bread was easy, and a plate and cup from the camp would do for vessels, but what about the wine? I understood that the Navajo Nation prohibits the sale of alcohol. I was not up for bootlegging and kind of wanted to stay in the Navajo Nation for a while. So, what do do?
I went out and got bread, we set the table, I put water in the cup and explained to the community what our situation was. I reminded them of our experience in Navajoland, that water was absolutely primal and central to our daily concerns. Most days we had to bring in all the water we drank or cooked with, most days we had no showers. The water was to important.
I said that perhaps the water could be for us the wine, and the water / wine the blood. So we had Eucharist with bread and water, and particularly rememberd all those for whom these basic signs of life were rare and precious things, and reminded us that those outward and visible signs are indeed of inward and spiritual truth: we share the bread and water / wine, in affirmation that Jesus is for us the rare and precious presence of God joined with us, and that we likewise ought to be for the world and one another the same.
It was a fine Eucharist, and all the elements were there. The water was, as it were, an outward and visible sign once removed.