Originally posted on Blogger on September 25, 2010
(Bear with me I think it’s a funny story, some of you may not, but with all the changes that have come into my life hearing the words, “you have cancer”, I have to have a sense of humor to get through some of the days that are thrown at me. So please don’t judge me for my way of dealing with MY life. I hope you never have to “walk in my shoes”.)
Last week, while standing in the break room of my employment and thankfully all alone, I got my Hostess Ding Dong stuck in my throat. This sort of thing happens to me often enough. I had once again made the mistake of trying to take a drink of water before I had swallowed the Ding Dong completely. As I was telling my sister-in-law about this the other day and we had a bit of a chuckle, it reminded me of another incident a while back. At the time I had taken the time to write about it, because it was such a huge fiasco that developed over several months and I just really needed to do what I like to call my, “Verbal Vomit” when thoughts get stuck in my head, going round and round. If I put it to paper I can let it go. So here’s what I wrote.
Just over 6 years ago I went through Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation treatments to my neck and throat area for Stage IV Tonsil Cancer. These treatments while saving my life created some minor difficulties for me in the area of eating. My throat shrunk during the process of treatment and after having 5 procedures to stretch my throat it is now about half as large as a child’s throat. I know this by how I am able to eat and the fact that my Gastro Doctor is unable to get a Pediatric tube down my throat. I have less saliva than most people because of the radiation damage to the Salivary glands. You wouldn’t think that was a big deal, but try swallowing bread without your spit. So that’s the back story, for my outlook on MY life after Cancer.
We were on our 15 minute break. It seemed to me, we all needed a distraction from the “job, so I started to ask,” is it a morbid sin”, immediately my friend, corrected me saying, “Mortal, not Morbid”, I giggled and said, “your right, but when you hear my story you will probably think it is morbid”. So I started my question again, “Is it a Mortal sin, to carry Jesus around in your pocket?”. There were a few giggles and stops in other conversations, and a few, “what?”, and so started the long story of how I ended up having to put Jesus in my Pocket.
Some time ago I volunteered to be a Communion Assistant at my Church. I’m always a bit nervous at doing things like this and most especially doing it for the first time, so I had watched the week before to make sure I knew exactly how things were done. Only problem was this service was a “Traditional” service which means the Worship Team communes by Common Cup, which means the Worship Team all drink from the same cup. When there is a Contemporary Service it is by Intinction, where the Worship team gets their own Communion wafer to politely dip into the Cup.
So the following week I was expecting to have the Common Cup. When the Pastor gave me Jesus’ body the first thing I noticed was how large the piece of Jesus was that was given to me. I knew, due to my damaged throat, there was no way I could gracefully place all of the wafer in my mouth and chew and swallow before I was presented with the Cup of Jesus’ blood to drink, so I broke off a small piece, holding the rest in my hand away from the Congregation. I figured I could, when no one was looking, poke the rest of the wafer in as soon as I got the first piece swallowed. Well it was a good thing I saved a piece because I didn’t realize I would not be given the cup to drink from, but instead, offered the cup to dunk my Jesus into. Great, no problem, I dunked the Jesus I had held secretly in my hand and placed the wafer in my mouth. No worries, right? I was told later by several members of the Congregation who were sitting in the front pews (yes unusual for Lutherans to be in the front) how they thought I had performed some sort of miracle before their very eyes. They had seen me put the wafer in my mouth before I was given the Cup with Jesus’ blood, only to see me have the wafer a second time, dunk it and pop it in my mouth. That was my first, shall we say, “incident”. We had a few giggles, no worries.
I’m not Communion Assistant too terribly often so by the next time my Service rolled around, I had pretty much forgotten about “miracle of the first go round”. Yes, I forgot that Pastor is so generous in the rather large pieces of Jesus he gives out, until it was too late to ask him to please be a bit more stingy with me and only give me a sliver of Jesus. So the second time I was Communion Assistant I didn’t want a repeat of the first “miracle” so I popped ALL of the wafer into my mouth. For some reason I didn’t think Pastor would be there so quickly to offer me Jesus’ blood. Pastor stood politely with a little smile waiting for me to place my lips to the Cup with Jesus’ blood he offered before me. I could not, of course, for the life of me get the wafer swallowed to take Jesus’ blood! Panic immediately set in! No way I could have put the wafer to the side of my mouth and drank His blood, cause I just knew I would either get Jesus pieces back in the cup for the poor unsuspecting Acolyte kid, who would get pieces of my Jesus mixed in with his Jesus or with the combination of Jesus’ blood and body trying to get down my throat at the exact time it was going to get stuck and I was going to panic and spit Jesus’ pieces all over the Altar. A far greater sin I felt, than passing my Jesus’ pieces along to the poor acolyte.
Pastor realized I was having trouble, so he bypassed me to offer the cup to the Acolyte. I know he was thinking that would give me PLENTY of time to get the wafer swallowed, but unknown to the Pastor at the time was that swallowing for me, is painstakingly slow. So there was Pastor again smiling and waiting for me, and of course the wafer was still stuck in my throat. The seconds ticked by like waiting for a bad tooth to be pulled. The Pastor, the Acolyte and now what felt like the ENTIRE congregation staring and waiting and wondering what was going on. I finally got the wafer swallowed and acknowledged with a tip of the head, I was ready for the Cup. No worries about what might go back in the Cup since I was now the last to drink from the Cup. And most certainly I forgot again to mention to the Pastor, my, eating issues.
A few Sunday’s later I had for some reason decided to volunteer to be the Acolyte. I was happy to help out our Church Secretary, who in my mind seemed a bit frantic for Acolytes (usually the Confirmation kids take this position). So here, once again, while it was too late, I found myself up in front of the Congregation and as it approached time for Communion I remembered the previous Communions I had participated in and the trouble I continued to have with Jesus! My brain cells have been slightly rearranged from the Chemo.
As Communion got closer, I figured this time around I needed a better plan. So Pastor offered, “the body of Christ, given for you” and I took Jesus and held him in my hand till I was sure no one was looking. I quickly laid my Jesus on the little table, by the Acolyte’s chair, so I could get the Communion cups picked up (that’s the Acolyte’s job). I was thinking, I could pop the wafer in after I finished picking up the cups. As I came back to my seat I thought, “Holy cow I can’t put the wafer in my mouth now,, I’d be chewing and trying to swallow the whole time I was extinguishing the candles and leading the procession down the aisle. How rude! So quickly without giving it another thought I put Jesus in my pocket. I couldn’t just leave him there, laying on the table, that’s gotta be a sin for sure! I extinguished the candles and down the aisle I went and at last Church was over. I high tailed it over to the privacy of the Acolyte room and carefully pulled Jesus out of my pocket, where He had been hanging out, waiting for me ever so patiently. I said a little prayer that I was grateful He not only died for my sins (especially this latest one) but that He held together and didn’t break up into tiny pieces in my pocket. I told Him how sorry I was that I had to place Him there, but I know He full well understood. I thought, I’ve had Jesus in my pocket today, I am truly blessed, most people carry Him in their hear!
And the “good news” of that day, everyone at break had a good chuckle and we all went back to work a little lighter in our step. Well, I like to think I entertained them all.
As I draw this story to a close it is Saturday night, and I just realized that tomorrow morning…..I’m Communion Assistant!
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