This snippet of conversation took place after celebrating communion while on retreat this fall:
“This is good bread!” “It’s fantastic!” “Oh, my word.”
“Where did you get the bread?”
“From the cranky lady at the market.”
In response to the quizzical look, I explained. There’s a woman who sells her bread at the market. She often has a steady stream of customers. She offers about a dozen different varieties. I have only been a few times, and each time I go, I have questions. I want to know about the bread I’m getting. Every time I’ve been there, the woman seems to be in a bad mood. She frowns when I ask her my questions, and hastily answers them. I don’t feel warm-fuzzies during these encounters. So, in my mind I dubbed her The Cranky Lady.
Her bread is fantastic. That’s why I return. There was another baker, across town, who was more personable, but she no longer has her shop. I wanted to get bread from her, because communion is a special moment. I figure it is better to have bread baked and offered in joy. I debated whether or not to go to the Cranky Lady for the elements. Would my experience of this person who supplied the bread colour my experience of communion? I would much rather receive from someone I got along with better.
I needn’t have worried. Our celebration was made holy with prayer and story and blessing. A friend recently reminded me that communion is not complete without everyone there. Welcoming those (or the gifts of those) I am at odds with is not really about grace. (Because it’s not really about me or what I offer.) Welcoming the Other at the table is necessary for wholeness, because the community is incomplete without their presence, their voice, their story.
So, yes, it is good and fitting that we would accept and bless the gifts of the Cranky Lady. Her delicious bread enhanced our experience of the sacred meal. And who knows, maybe she’s not really cranky at all. Maybe she’s one of those people whose face of concentration looks cranky. Maybe this is her being focused and staying on top of things.
And, it’s helpful to remember, some days I am The Cranky Lady offering my gifts.