the communion line
I am going to tell you a story, my dear friends, about a moment in time that was...well, it was charming in its way. Rioutously funny in other ways. A burst of humor, quickly covered. A mellow mirth. A moment in the communion line.
My 2nd graders are still relatively new to the communion game and it's going well. Really.
Their practice of this sacrament has included a family affair, walking up the center aisle. A two-line affair at a busy May Day Mass. A couple of day school masses, which were anybody's guess. Presumably their practice also includes Sunday Mass, but I could neither confirm nor deny that, as Assumption is not my Sunday parish.
At day school masses, we are having them come up the center aisle in two lines, but--once at the front, after they bow--they receive communion in a zipper-traffic pattern.
You, then you.
Back and forth.
And Monsignor, who is administering communion at the center aisle, is pressed into the position of distributing the sacrament to little cupped hands that are half his height and to make matters worse, they aren't stepping close enough to him. And I have been where he is--kind of having to lean forward and out to reach the hands of the receiver.
But I also see what they are thinking--that they will wait their turn and come up one at a time. And I think (though I don't really know) that he wants them up there two-by-two and he will just sort or go back and forth. And I keep trying to remember to bring that idea into focus by conversations with all concerned parties, but I just keep forgetting. Then every Mass day, I remember all over again.
But the kids. They aren't aware of any of that. They are only thinking about what they need to do. I can see it in their posture. In their hesitancy. In their stiff prayer hands. (Check).
Quick, perfunctory bow. (Check).
Recieve the host. Check.
Step to the side. Check.
Make it back to the pew without tripping on the kneelers. Again, check.
None of this is by rote to them yet. They are still adorably laser-focused.
And, so as they are walking up, Monsignor is literally saying to them, "Step closer."
"You have to step closer."
Literally, they are so far back.
"You have to step closer."
And not-a-one of them is winning the--as I call it in the classroom-- "I Can Take a Hint" Award. Not one of them is noticing what is happening on their little horizon and internalizing it to mean, "Oh. I, too, will need to make sure I step closer."
Rather, their focus is inward. The to do list. The bow. The hands. The step. The return to their seats.
But you know who is hearing it and internalizing it? This girl. Me.
And you know who else? Miss Dee who is directly across from me, but in the other line.
All of this is happening as we process to the altar amid the sounds of the communion song and the undertones of the instructions up ahead.
Soon, it was my turn to receive communion, and--I'm not sure why. Either the Holy Spirit on my right shoulder or some devil on my left--made me step SO far forward that my cupped hands poked Monsignor in the chest. He startled. Dee made some sort of a strangled sound to my left, halfway between a snort and a chortle, then immediately regained herself. I stepped back and received the host like a proper Catholic, and life went on as normal.
After Mass, we were having a "run around" which is what Bess and I call the after-Mass recess where we don't get any balls out, and I saw Monsignor come out of the school office.
This is a man who does appreciate a joke, but rarely at his own expense, so I was a little nervous. I mean, let's be honest, I poked the man during the holiest of holy parts of the Mass. That could have gone horribly wrong. He could have had my head on a silver platter by 9 am.
When I looked his way, it was to see him wagging his pointer finger at me.
"Bad example, Mrs. Mudd..." he said with his trademark grumpy frown.
"So," I teased across the distance of asphalt that separated us. "...I just
want to make sure I understand--?"
"You are setting a BAD. EXAMPLE." He raised his voice.
"Okay...so. To be clear. THAT was too close?"
And he laughed. Just one quick burst of amusement that had me all kinds of relieved. Then he shook his head and continued to his car around the corner.
But let's be honest--it was funny. Humor...true humor...is a spark. Some amalgamation of the moment, the unexpected, and the timing. That's why it's so hard to get kids to learn the concept of "funny once". The genius of comedy is not in the telling of the joke, but in the timing of it.
And this was no exception. Oh, it wouldn't be funny TWICE. If done a second time, by anyone else, it would not at all get a laugh. But, let me tell you, it was funny as hell...ONCE.😉