There is no greater awkward joy
Than to celebrate communion one-handed,
Clasping a child in your other arm.
Feeling its small, warm body
Conform itself to your curves; feeling yourself
Move that one side of your body
Into the universal jig that all flesh
Doesn’t know it knows
Until a baby is put into its arms.
One hand splayed against the soft heaviness of head and neck,
The other outstretched in prayer -
You make God real
in flesh and blood,
bread and wine -
Tangible, fragile, consumable.
(One small corner of your mind concerned to do this with all possible dignity
To placate those who may feel the baby detracts
From the seriousness of the occasion –
Another, wondering if dry-cleaning would remove
Baby sick from the shoulder of the antique chasuble,
Should need arise)
In that moment, you are both the baby and God.
Feeling all God’s fierce and tender protectiveness
As these tiny, fragile things are held in your hands –
Feeling all the infant’s fierce and needy grasping
To be held, protected, loved.
Clasping a miniature fistful of chasuble
Against being dropped.
Offering a mere handful of bread,
Against being alone.
Afterwards, I know, I will hear
Both complaints and sentimentality.
But this moment is neither sentimental nor profane.
If I had a spare hand, I would take off my shoes.
For here God is speaking ‘I AM’ into my very body.