One of the unique features of my upcoming book, River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times are its Flow Lessons: prayerful exercises using concrete elements from our every day lives to reveal spiritual truths. They combine prayer with action, creating a practical life application.
Here is the first Flow Lesson from the introduction to my book. Did this exercise change the way you look at receiving the Eucharist? Please share in the comments section.
I hope this blesses you. I did it a couple of weeks ago when I received communion and it made for a wonderful, lingering meditation that lasted long after mass was over.
Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper, food, and your imagination.
Pick a quiet place in your home to do this exercise and make sure you can sit still comfortably for several minutes.
To begin, take a moment to be still with God. If you are having trouble with noise in your mind from the cares of the day, close your eyes and imagine a tree in winter filled with screeching birds. The tree is dense with these birds and the noise is unbearable. Now watch as each bird flies away. Attach a thought or care to that flying bird and bid it adieu. Do this until the tree is entirely empty of birds and it is quiet.
Choosing some food
After a few moments of quiet, go to the kitchen and fix yourself something to eat that is both nutritious and something you really like. As you prepare your food, say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for that food and for the privilege of eating it in his presence.
Describe your food
Return with your food to the place you had designated for this exercise and examine it carefully. Write down a few descriptive phrases about the food, noting its color, smell and texture. Now take a bite and chew slowly, thinking about how the food tastes, what it feels like in your mouth and what you enjoy about that food. Write down phrases that pop into your mind.
Think about where your food is going
When you finish your meal, think about where food goes after you eat it, how it goes to your stomach, is digested and then circulated throughout your body via your bloodstream. As you are thinking about that, consider how you are feeling: do you feel energized and satisfied after eating? Does it give you what you need to carry on with your day?
Write down your impressions and then put your piece of paper in a prominent place so you will remember to take it with you the next time you go to mass. Ask God to take what you have written and plant it on your heart for when you receive communion.
During mass take out that piece of paper and read it before you receive the Eucharist. Now consider the Eucharist in the same way you considered the food you ate during your meditation. Be mindful of the texture of the wafer as you receive it and notice how you eat it:
- Do you chew it or let it dissolve?
- Think about why you eat it in that way and how it makes you feel. If you also receive the wine, do you hold the wafer in your mouth and wait to consume it until you drink the wine?
- How does the wine add to the experience?
Pray and Ponder …
When you get back to your place, think about the wafer and the wine being digested, soon to be coursing through your veins.
- What symbols come to mind, if any?
- How will the Eucharist nourish you, both spiritually and physically?
- Thinking about the Eucharist being the body and blood of Christ, how does it make you feel to know it is now present within your body?
When you get home from mass, take a few moments and write down your impressions of receiving communion on your piece of paper and compare notes. Ask God to continue to offer insight, opening the eyes of your mind to new ideas and possibilities.
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from the preface of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press
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