When the rug called Ritual and Routine got ripped from underneath my feet, I flew into the air, I fell on my rear, and when I got up, nothing looked the same. When the rug called Ritual and Routine got ripped from underneath my feet, a lamp broke, a chair fell over, and all the books flew out of the bookcase. They smelled like dust. They made me sneeze. And I can’t remember how they were ordered. When the rug called Ritual and Routine got ripped from underneath my feet, I got angry at the pandemic, at the politicians, at preachers and institutions, at the folks who say mean and ignorant things on Facebook. I got angry at myself because my own sins are just as bad as theirs are. Church was closed. I couldn’t taste the sacrament. Only salty tears. And I wondered if God had forsaken me.
When the rug called Ritual and Routine got ripped from underneath my feet, I dreamed I was sitting with my children under a table in the back corner of a school cafeteria, holding out my hand for a Communion wafer that never came.
It took weeks, but my tears of lament turned to tears of repentance. I cried them out to the Lord while taking a walk. “Have you forsaken me? Are you against me? Forgive me my trespasses. Give me grace to forgive those who have trespassed against me.” Then he reminded me that he had never forsaken me before, he was not forsaking me now, and he would not forsake me in the future. He reminded me that he loved me as much in that moment as he did the day I was born, and every moment in between. When the rug called Ritual and Routine got ripped from underneath my feet, I fell from the air, I lay in a mess. And Jesus met me right there on the floor.
I don’t dream about begging for Communion anymore. That’s one extra large piece of furniture that’s been put back up after the rug was ripped out. My church opened several weeks ago. We’re receiving the sacrament one at a time from a server wearing latex gloves. We’re skipping pews. We’re sitting six feet apart. We’re wearing masks. We pass the peace by waving at one another. It’s worship, but it’s weird. Today I was reading in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus serves the disciples their first Communion. “One of you will hand me over,” Jesus tells them. And they react in “vehement distress.” The rug called Ritual and Routine sure did get ripped out from underneath their reclining rears. And Jesus was with them on the floor, too.
April Pickle lives under a green roof with her husband, four children, and two dogs. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and teaches journalism and literature at a university-model high school. One cold day, when April was in the fourth grade, she closed the car door on her winter coat and, unbeknownst to her or her father, prevented the door from latching all the way. Half a mile down the road, her daddy turned a corner, the door flew open, and she fell out. Thanks to the thickness of the coat, she was unharmed.