Q is for Quirky

I often don’t know how to describe my collages, so I use the word quirky. How else could explain this odd conglomeration using a couple of dogs and a Dr. Seuss character?

from The New Century Dictionary, 1948, — a 2 volume set found in the free box at the Endicott library.

A quirk is a sudden twist. I was surprised to read that in the dictionary, because I think of quirks as “unique-nesses” — those things that make you you.

We currently have a cat that loves belly rubs. I consider that a quirk.

Last week our cat disappeared.

The first day, I didn’t think much of it. She’ll be back, I told myself.

But when I went for a walk, I scanned the ditches on either side of the road, just in case she had darted out in front of a car and met her demise.

The second day, I started mentally running through the list of predators in the vicinity. I hear coyotes howl at night. Do they like cats? My brother told me that large owls prey on cats. I hadn’t seen any large owls, but he said there were some in the area. Our neighbor once told us that foxes prey on cats. I know foxes live around here. I was pretty sure that the bald eagles prefer fish from the river, so I ruled them out — hoping I was right about that.

I walked the road again looking for our little black cat, calling her, looking in the fields for her — but the only black I saw were crows.

The third day came and I was worried. I asked my brother, didn’t we used to have cats that would disappear for a week at a time?

Ishibon (1967)

“Ishibon would go off two to three weeks,” he said.

Ishibon had been our first cat. I remembered Ishibon going off and coming back. I felt better.

A little.

But by the fourth day, I felt like I needed to brace Mary for the inevitable.

“If Piper doesn’t come back,” I told her, “we’ll need to get another cat to keep the mice at bay.”

“I don’t want another cat,” she said. “I want Piper.”

Piper, with all her little quirks, was our cat.

It was Good Friday, and I found myself thinking about Jesus’ disciples watching Jesus die on the cross. They had so hoped that He was the Messiah.

“There, there,” the Pharisees undoubtedly said. “We’ll get another Messiah.”

And one of the Marys would have replied, “I don’t want another Messiah. I want Jesus.”

Because for all His quirks — picking grain on the Sabbath and speaking with a Samaritan woman, all those times He behaved in unexpected ways, and then, at the end, to die like that — He WAS the Messiah.

The people simply couldn’t see it at the time.

If He had behaved like everybody else, He wouldn’t have been God.

I know I’m not saying it well, but the quirks made the Messiah.

Your quirks make you. My quirks make me.

And our quirky little cat returned on Saturday, an early Easter gift for us.

I think she wanted a belly rub.

Piper

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Communion

Communion is a joyful time at our church.

For so many years, I was used to a different way of celebrating communion.  A somber, sober way.  A stay-in-your-seat kind of way.  A contemplative, inward-looking way.

Not that those are bad things.  Communion — eating the bread and drinking the cup — shows forth the Lord’s death until He comes again.  Death is a somber, sober thing.  It calls for contemplation and looking inward.

IMG_2808[1]At our church though, we walk to the front and receive the bread, a chunk torn from a small white loaf, with the words, “This is the Bread of Life.”  Next, we dip our bread into the challis and hear “This is the Cup of Blessing.” The bread, now soggy with grape juice, must be eaten immediately, unless it is so large that it takes several bites.  Children love this.

At first, I was critical of this method.  I mean, really, everyone knows Jesus didn’t use leavened bread, I would scoff to myself.  But the reality is that Jesus also didn’t serve wine in cute little cups that could be used later for VBS crafts.  No, modern communion only recalls that Last Supper; it doesn’t replicate it.  And that attention to the outward details is exactly the pit into which the Pharisees fell.  What’s important is what’s going on in the heart.  More precisely, for me, in my heart.

Once I set my inward Pharisee aside, I could laugh and enjoy communion.  It’s a little chaotic. Children grin broadly and sometimes laugh when they are handed a large piece of bread.  More than once bread has fallen into the challis.  One parishioner’s guiding eye dog, not always in harness, but still in church, sniffs the floor hopefully for a few crumbs.

Yesterday, I went forward for communion.  The pastor said, “This the Bread of Life,” and tore a piece from the loaf.  I looked up into eyes that were warm and tender.  This was someone who knows me and loves me.  The young acolyte lifted the challis for me.  His little voice was timid and sweet as he said, “The Cup of Blessing.”

Afterwards, as I sat in my seat, I thought about that last supper Jesus shared with His disciples.  I’m sure He looked them in the eye and smiled at them as He gave them the bread.  Maybe it was a little messy sharing the cup.  I know for certain, though, that the love was palpable.

It reminded me of something Frederick Buechner once wrote about a communion experience.  I’ll leave you with that.

… I was receiving communion in an Episcopal church early one morning.  The priest was an acquaintance of mine, and I could hear him moving along the rail from person to person as I knelt there waiting for my turn.  The body of Christ, he said, the bread of heaven.  The body of Christ, the bread of heaven.  When he got to me he put in another word.  The word was my name, “The body of Christ, Freddy, the bread of heaven.”

…There was nothing extraordinary about the priest knowing my name — I knew he knew it — and there was nothing extraordinary about him using it in the service because he evidently did that sort of thing quite often.  But the effect on me was extraordinary.

… For the first time in my life, maybe, it struck me that when Jesus picked up the bread at his last meal and said, “This is my body which is for you,” he was doing it not just in a ritual way for humankind in general, but in an unthinkably personal way for every particular man or woman or child who ever existed or someday would exist.  Most unthinkable of all, maybe he was doing it for me.  At that holiest of feasts we are known not just by our official name but by the names people use who have known us the longest and most intimately.

from Spiritual Quests:  The Art and Craft of Religious Writing,
edited by William Zinsser

Food for thought the next time you partake in communion.