Posted by: riverchilde | September 21, 2012

Blood and wine

My dreams the last two nights have been simple, but profound. Two nights ago, I dreamed I had miscarried and was very publicly hemorrhaging from the center of my motherhood and no one was able to do much but keep the mess contained. The bleeding was necessary for healing, but it was exactly like I felt during my waking hours. I felt like I couldn’t be in public, be with people, almost like I wasn’t human, so raw that contact with others would break my skin open and I would bleed all over them. In many ways, I felt like the menstruating woman in the book of Mark*, who desperately reached out in a crowd to touch Jesus in hopes of being healed. *Mark 5:24-34

My dream last night was even simpler and even more profound. I was hanging out with Tori and Alex, goofing around with what I can only describe as a futuristic digital jukebox. If you don’t know what a jukebox is, think “giant brightly colored furniture-sized Ipod that you had to put money in to hear the song you want.” Weird, but true. My jukebox was shaped like a furniture-sized grey rock, with a digital panel like the one in newer cars that showed the song title and artist for each selection. And you didn’t need money to choose one.

All that is irrelevant, I suppose. What is relevant is that Tori and Alex and I were just hanging out together. I was attempting to read the artists’ names, and they were racing to properly pronounce them and guess the name of the song. Periodically, Alex would give a fist-pump and say “YES!” to a song of which he approved heartily. Those of you who know his so-called musical taste will know what those sounded like.

The music selections were widely varied, from pop tunes to hymns to electro house music. I woke with the refrain of “Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy to be praised” from You Are My All in All repeating over and over in my head and feeling healed in some way. During my prayers this morning, I told God and Alex how much I had appreciated the simple time spent together in the dream. Of how it was not Alex’s absence that hurt so much, but his lack of presence in our lives. We had stopped including him in our daily lives, instead trying only to not think about his absence. The dream reminded me of how much we need Alex in, with and under our lives.

Those of you who are Lutheran may recognize those words. They are the words we use to describe the mystery of Jesus Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist, the bread and the wine that we share as a remembering and worshipping community. And I thought about how Jesus at the Last Supper understood our need to have something tangible to hang onto to keep him living and present in his absence. Something that reminds us that he is still FULLY present with us, even though he has ascended into heaven.  Something that would bring healing joy to the walking wounded. The fully human/fully divine Son of Man and Son of God knew what life was going to be like in the aftermath of his departure. It was gonna feel like a wasteland. But he left us with the gift of the Eucharist that we might fully experience his eternal living presence with us. (Of course, he also sent the Holy Spirit, but my experience with the Holy Spirit after Alex’s death is a separate blog–or two–in and of itself.)

And so, we need to find those tangible things that keep Alex fully present with us. Those marvelous polarfleece blankets that the youth made for us at Alex’s wake are one way that we had been doing that. We hauled those babies with us to Atlanta, to the cabin, to college, to the basement that Alex had indelibly imprinted as his. But somehow, for me, my blanket had changed into a sign of his absence.  Just like we had stopped telling stories of him and remembering the joy he brings to our life, I had stopped thinking of him as being present with us. Today I plan to reclaim the sacramental nature of those things that remind me of Alex, so that they might be signs of his living presence among us.



  1. […] week, I wrote about the sacramentality of everyday items, an epiphany that has made a world of difference in my coping skills since then. This weekend, I […]

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