Roe, Rights & The Constitution

Roe v. Wade is the topic of the day, and I intended to post a brilliant letter from my friend Fr. David Sibley that he sent to his congregation. But I think I want to go in a slightly different direction.

It is almost impossible to convince anti abortion extremists that pro choice is not pro abortion, and the usual messaging from pro choice advocates doesn’t help. They embrace reproductive rights, with which I agree, but fail to address the moral questions embedded in them. It leaves the moral argument entirely in the hands of the anti abortion crowd.

Speaking only for myself, I believe abortion is a sin. Not in the sense of moral failure, but in the sense that God’s desire for a full and abundant life for each person has stumbled over a tragic decision in which the value of an adult life of established promise is weighed against the potential life of an embryo or fetus. Such a decision can never be made as a matter of convenience, and I doubt that it is by most women facing a decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. The women who have come to me as their priest have had serious decisions to make about their own health and well being in the face of a pregnancy that faces overwhelming obstacles of many and complex kinds. It has to take enormous courage for a woman to consult their male priest, so I expect most women have the same gut wrenching conversation with trusted friends and relatives. It all depends on trust.

Anti abortion activists have a right to try to convince women, and the public, of their views, and to assist willing women in exploring alternatives that can work for them. For some, it may even be a religious obligation. So be it. They do not have the right to intimidate, harass, or commit any act of physical or verbal assault.

The assertion that this most intimate and tragic of personal decisions can be outlawed and criminalized by the full force of the government having no interest in the well being of an adult woman is reprehensibly immoral. It is utterly contrary to the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under the Fourteenth amendment, the Supreme court notwithstanding. The assertion that religious convictions of a minority can be imposed on a majority who do not concur is equally immoral and reprehensible. As a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, I assert that it is also blatantly unChristian.

Anti abortion activists tried for fifty years to convince a majority of Americans and failed. Neither could they convince a majority of the Congress. In the end, they only had to convince five justices who had previously sworn an oath that Roe v. Wade was settled law. That worked. It should send chills down the spine of every American who treasures our freedoms and the Constitution.

It creates a difficult conundrum. The American tradition of liberal government has long held that the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. Yet the court has sometimes erred. It did so in a number of cases that helped trigger the Civil War, and again in aiding the undoing of gains made by former slaves in the years following. It is, after all, an institution staffed by human beings. Over time it has always corrected its errors, but the interims have caused great harm endangering the foundations of liberal republican democracy that values “liberty and justice for all.”

Roe v. Wade guaranteed the right of women to make moral decisions affecting themselves and their pregnancies within agreed upon limitations. It resolved the centuries long problem of illegal abortions carried out by unqualified practitioners using methods causing injury. Overturning Roe v. Wade has made women second class citizens once again. Moreover, it signaled the vulnerability of other civil rights this particular court can easily overturn based on the specious argument that a right not specifically named in the Constitution is not a right at all. It’s only a privilege enduring only until it’s revoked.

NOTE: For those interested in reading Fr. David’s letter, go to

Williamsburg, Juneteenth & The American West: Reconciling History

Williamsburg held an ecumenical Juneteenth worship service.  Christians and Jews joined with a few Buddhists and Muslims in a service of music, prayers, meditations, speeches, and joyful optimism.  It was movingly encouraging to see the local community of faiths come together in the place where African enslavement began in British North America.  It’s also where the American War of Independence came to a successful end, and it’s not far from the one time capital of the Confederacy in Richmond.  Jim Crow flourished in the region for the next hundred years.  Desegregation came grudgingly and slow.  

It’s not a region where one would expect it, but the story of enslavement and its aftermath extending to our own time is being rediscovered, recorded, and celebrated through the combined resources of the entire community.  It’s a matter of embracing all of the region’s history without imposing personal guilt or shame on current generations.  There are, of course, other voices from the far right that scream at school boards, and sit by sulking as the rest get on with learning and celebrating.  It’s not perfect.  It’s more like muddling through, with more than a few stumbles but no turning back.

As a recent transplant, it’s all new to me, and I’m relishing it, and it got me thinking about the regions I know best: the Northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest.

Physically removed from areas of enslavement, western states and territories were pawns in the Civil War era.  Afterwards, the West embraced its own more subtle version of Jim Crow without admitting they were doing it, enabling subsequent generations to deny it ever had.   But their version of Jim Crow laws restricting black rights is really a subplot; the more atrocious stories of the cruelly brutal treatment of Asian and Mexican Americans were buried under romantic tales of by whom the West was won.  Even more cruel and brutal were the Indian wars of conquest fought savagely by both sides.  The Indian nations were eventually and fully “pacified” through genocide, starvation, deception, blatant disregard for treaties and forced relocation to a remote, unproductive land.

Those stories are not unknown, but have never been told in a  way that weaves them into a more complete historical narrative  that celebrates pioneer courage and perseverance.  Tales dribble out episode by episode, often romanticized in literature and film.

Asian immigration, for instance, was outlawed from the late 19th century until the mid 20th.  Before Asian exclusion acts were enacted, Asian residents were denied the right to own property, vote or go where they liked.  They were subject to vigilante violence wherever they began to prosper.  It didn’t matter that it was their labor that built the West’s railroads through the most difficult and dangerous mountain terrain one could imagine. Nevertheless, they stayed and persevered, even through the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.

During most of the 59 years I lived in the Northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest, Mexicans were called a lot of derogatory names and always called migrants or peons.  There were seasonal migrant laborers paid as little as possible and housed in miserable work camps.  But many Mexican Americans were descendants of generations in the West.  If they were educated, looked white(ish) and fully assimilated into white culture, they were in.  Otherwise they were migrants or peons.  Change is happening; Cinco de Mayo is a made up holiday celebrating Mexican American culture that is widely enjoyed by all.  That’s a good thing, but it tends to veil the history of enormous Mexican American contributions to the development of the West while working under oppressive and exploitive conditions.  Today’s Mexican and other immigrants continue to provide the labor needed to sustain Western productivity and quality of life for the more affluent.

These are not unknown stories, they are untold stories that must reach the greater population. Instead the greater population has been entertained and misled by cowboy and pioneer movies, and t.v. shows about frontier marshals, little houses on the prairie, and big Wyoming ranches.

Which brings us to American Indians and the Indian wars.  It’s hard for today’s public to comprehend how cruelly vicious the wars were. We don’t want to admit “we” won the West by means that would be universally condemned as war crimes today.  Most tribes, not all, were cautiously amenable to white settlement, as long as the settlers respected tribal culture and ways of understanding things like property ownership, care of nature, and making lots of room for each other to live as they were accustomed.  The clash of cultures was too great to bridge the chasm that lay between them. The doctrine of manifest destiny brooked no interference to white European conquest, settlement and rule.  Lust for silver and gold despoiled sacred places with no concern for justice. The dawn of the 20th century marked the end of declared warfare, but American Indians were not granted the privilege of citizenship until 1924.  After generations of impoverished subjugation, tribal leaders are leading the way to reclaiming and asserting their rightful place in American society, and in the stories of America’s history.

The West I know, the Northern Great Plains and Pacific Northwest would benefit greatly from emulating work now being done in the historic colonial triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown to reweave the narrative of the West’s history, celebrating it in a Juneteenth moment appropriate to the West.

The Value of Christian Symbols – or Lack of It

I’ve been reflecting on a passage in Romans 2 about the value, or lack of it, of circumcision.  New gentile Christians in Rome were being urged by some observant Jewish Christians to have males circumcised as the necessary symbol of full membership in God’s family.  Paul said it wasn’t necessary, that circumcision meant total commitment to the whole of Jewish law and tradition.  Without that commitment, the symbol of circumcision had no value at all. 

It raises an important question for us in our own day.  What is the value, or lack of it, of the symbols we proclaim as certification of our place in God’s family?  Something one proclaims as a symbol of their Christian Fatih has meaningful value only if it includes an intentional commitment to follow Jesus in the way of love.

In all walks in life, symbols proclaiming one’s membership in a group or place in society come in a variety of forms. A badge, for instance, is a symbol that one is legitimately authorized to be a part of something that others are not.  A police badge is a symbol of legal authority not permitted to others.  If the badge is dishonored, it can be taken away.  Similar symbols accrue to professions of all kinds, clergy, and fraternal lodges. Violating the values the symbol represents can result in expulsion.  The symbols are displayed as pins, rings, degrees, certificates, even colors.  Each has meaning only insofar as the wearer demonstrates adherence to the meaning, purposes and rules of the group.

What are the symbols we proclaim as authenticating our Christian faith and what are their terms and conditions?  Baptism is the obvious example, and, for some Christians, so is the Eucharist.  There are others more frequently displayed in public.  I wear an Episcopal Church lapel pin on jackets. Words can also be powerful symbols. Some claim saying they’ve accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior is enough.  A viral video showed a woman screaming that she was washed in the blood of Christ.  She felt it was the only symbol she needed to authenticate who she was. 

Heeding Paul’s warning, we can claim any symbol of Christian faith we want, but if we don’t have sincere intention to try to follow Jesus in the way of love, our claim has no value. The symbols are meaningless. Moreover, those who have never claimed any Christian symbol, but do follow in the way of Jesus, are not excluded for lack of water, bread, wine or an oath.  Symbols don’t confer meaning, they only announce it.

What symbolizes the truly important in your life, something you are committed to be and do as best you are able?

American Consumerism: When is Enough, Enough?

When is enough, enough?  This generally has two popular meanings: exasperation with something that’s gone on long enough; announcement that one is satiated, and can’t possibly have more.

There is another meaning:  although more is to be had and it’s enticing, but more is not needed, I have enough.

That kind of enough is never enough in an economy dominated by the perceived importance of consumer demand.  Consumer spending is a big measure of our national economic strength.   Business, industry, and government policy makers get nervous if spending isn’t increasing at an acceptable rate. Advertisers press home the point that one can never have enough.  Only more and better can make life truly fulfilling. The new and improved is sold as leading to good times, wealth, and greater personal intimacy.  The old must give way to the new, and as soon as possible.  Easy terms available to buy more without pain.  “You too can have what you’ve always wanted. No credit checks.”  Advertising isn’t a new thing.  It’s been around since street peddlers touted their wares from push carts. Sears and Penny’s began publishing tantalizing catalogues in the late 19th century. I couldn’t wait for the Sears Christmas catalogue to come, and knew exactly where to look for the fun toy section. I fantasized for hours about what I could do with each of the toys tempting a young boy. Oddly, fantasizing was enough, because I knew I would get only one, and that was enough.

Television took promotion of consumer spending to a new level.  We could see the promised dream of owning a new product acted out in video with announcers assuring that we could experience the reality of the dream, but time was short so purchase now.  Advertisers learned how to bring an unknown desire into the realm of must have need. Many were led to sacrifice family, quality of life and personal health in pursuit of another promotion, a bigger raise, a more generous bonus as if they were the only measure of success.  I went to an AMWAY promotion many years ago at which the opening gambit was “I know you would like to have more money, no one ever has enough, that’s the way I feel. Raise your hands if you are like me.” Almost everyone did.

The result is an American mindset that enough is never enough.  When an economy is dominated by consumer demand and spending, investment in the importance of fundamentals needed to sustain a robust lifestyle is diminished, sidetracked for more lucrative short term gains.

Old infrastructure suffers too much deferred maintenance.  New technologies find their greatest profit potential in consumer products, and more desperately needed applications are shunted aside.  Large corporations get more bang for the buck through financial manipulations like stock buybacks, and regulatory and tax avoidance schemes, than investing in employees, new plants and equipment. It’s what earns top executives huge mega salaries, while other employees are stuck reaping more meager pay from the real value of sales.

The fear is that the whole house of cards will come crashing down if consumer demand and spending flounders.  I don’t think it has to be that way.

An American public more comfortable with enough would not suffer a diminished standard of living.  Being satisfied with enough would not diminish the virtues of hard work and jobs well done.  It would not erode the importance of dedication to constant improvement.  It might erode the idea that competition is measured only by winners and losers, with the best tactic being to make sure everyone else is a loser by any legal means possible. I don’t know. I hope it would.

It would free up funds for greater investment in old and new, public and private infrastructure.  It would free up funds for massive improvements in education, health care, mass transportation, and recreational facilities.  It would increase incentives for developers to build more affordable housing, and city councils reasons to change zoning to be more congenial to it.

In short, the economy would not collapse for lack of consumer spending on wall to wall television sets or all new better than ever toothpaste. It would blossom with the kinds of jobs that pay real money. Top corporate executives would not be underpaid, neither would there be incentives for mega salaries based on financial and regulatory manipulation.

Would some people become billionaires? Yes. Would incomes and spending opportunities be greater for some than others?  Yes. But I doubt we would experience today’s obscenely exaggerated wage and salary differentials.

What’s needed for something like this to happen?  First, a seismic shift in government policies at every level that shuts the door on ultra free market libertarianism, and the silly notion that anything else is socialism. Of course it depends on candidates favoring that kind of change, and voters who understand the need.  

Those defending the way it is don’t care if the nation goes to hell, as long as they keep getting richer, with as little government as possible restricting their greed. They’ve done a superb job of selling fear that if things change, everything will fall apart. It’s been ingrained into the American psyche for almost sixty years.  The struggle to move public opinion in the right direction would be enormous. But failure would doom our democracy and the future of our material well being. 

The Value of Family Values

Restoring family values has been for some time one of the rallying cries for the far right. It’s not without merit, but I think not in the way they intend.

What they want is a restoration of a a married couple household consisting of a working dad as head, and a mom providing nurture and support to three children. Only legal marriages between a man and a woman count. All other relationships not leading to marriage would be illegitimate, some illegal.  Any language or public display within the framework of LGBTQ, etc. would be banned from the American lexicon, whether in print or on air.

These are not values. They are social structures and carry no moral content.  But they do suggest a social structure framework important to the long term health and welfare of society.

A healthy society is replenished by successive generations  that have been raised to be educated, responsible adults having the knowledge, skills and work ethic to contribute, each in their own way, to their own needs, to the needs of those closest to them, and to the good of the community.  In a democracy they must understand the responsibilities of citizenship.

Children are best nurtured and prepared for adulthood in households of two loving, mature adults.  Single parents have demonstrated they can do as well, given adequate support from their community. These are real family values. The  structure of the household can have many variations, and whatever works, works.

Families, no matter how functional, can’t do it alone. They require a community that assures, without regard to the ability to pay, that every child has access to the best available education. Education is a real family value.

Families also depend on communities providing the best available health care without regard for the ability to pay.  Healthcare is a family value.

Families need elected representatives more committed to the good of the whole than to the demands of a few special interests, or to the success of their own interests.  Special interests do have a legitimate role to pay, but public policy for the good of the whole is more important to family value.

These are real family values.  By themselves they are neither liberal nor conservative, but conservatives and liberals can advocate for them, each in their own way.

As a progressive Christian, I believe family values are strengthened by deeply rooted faithful commitment to follow Jesus, free from subjection to unnecessary legalism, and dogma incompatible with the way of love God has set before us.  No doubt other religious traditions strengthen family values in equal measure.

One might object that I’m being too loose.  Didn’t Jesus say no one should put asunder what God had joined when a man and woman became married?  In Jesus’ day marriages were arranged by contract, easily broken by either party.  Some were blessed by God’s grace through faith.  Today’s clergy are witness to many marriages performed in church, where God’s blessing was never invited, nor relied on when offered. Words were recited without much thought to living faithfully and lovingly through thick and thin with God’s help. 

Jesus used man and woman as the only available and easily recognized model; he did not exclude from God’s grace  other ways of becoming a household.  Martha, Mary and Lazarus were a household blessed by God.  Lydia and her people were a household blessed by God.  Who is my family, asked Jesus. All who follow me in the way of love are my family.  There are many ways to be a family blessed by God. All are invited, none must accept.

Real family values are important.  Families, healthy families, are necessary if a society is to prosper into future generations.   Families cannot do it all on their own. They need generous communities willing to pool their collective resources, investing in the best education and health care possible, open to all without distinction. 

Families need communities willing to invest in opportunities for good jobs, with an infrastructure efficiently linking everything together.  It’s a real family value.

America has drifted from recognizing real family values and from the needed public investment to support them.  Too many have been seduced down a dark alley of hypocritical social customs masquerading as moral values commanded by God. They serve only to condemn others, while placing children’s pageant halos on their own heads. 

May it please God that the momentum will shift toward the way of love Jesus has pioneered for us. May it please God that those of other traditions, or none at all, will be guided I

n a way of love Blessed by God.

Sacred Space, Sacred Time: What on Earth Are they?

There has been more conversation with my long time secular friend, whose first love is physics.  He wondered what I meant by by the terms sacred time and sacred space, observing that cosmic physics has something to say about the nature of time and space.  It was a good question wading into deep water. It took some time of reflection to gather my thoughts and sketch them out in the brief piece that follows.  In it, I speak only for myself. 

He was right that sub-atomic and cosmic physics provide some tangible insight into the nature of time and space while having no interest in whether they can be sacred.  The easy out is to say that sacred time and space are holy mysteries to be lived into, not puzzles to be solved.  Of course there’s more to it, but our little brains living in our little world are unable to grab more than a vague sense of them.  I suppose that’s why we call it entering the cloud of unknowing.

I’m going to split hairs by using holy space and time to replace sacred space and time.  Common usage of sacred space and time tends to be taken as an hour in church, or a bench by a gurgling brook, but what I mean is something different, so I’ll call it holy space and time to give more clarity to my thoughts on the subject.

I’ll start with time.  Humans live in linear time recording history as timelines. History begins in the mist of mythology and works its way forward until it gets to us.  The future is envisioned, anticipated, planned for, experienced in the passage of time, and then it fades into the mist of the unknown lying only a short way ahead.  Nevertheless, our years on earth leave a trail behind that changes conditions for the future and contributes its own piece of history for others to discover.

That’s true as far as it goes, but our island home lives in cyclical time as it orbits the sun and its seasons come, go, and come again.  Even we recognize what we call the cycle of life experienced by creation.  In a sense, our linear lives are like a tangent passing along the edge of the earth’s circle for a brief few years, leaving its marks.  As mysterious as it sounds, it still feels like cosmic geometry. Physics tells us that time cannot be restricted to geometry, whether plane or dimensional.  It is more fungible than that.  We have no idea what limits it may have, if any.  It is the realm of Holy time in which we encounter God’s presence. It’s not the same as the Eternal Oneness understood by other religions, neither is it antithetical to it.  It’s not pantheism, even though all creation is sacred.

The God we encounter cherishes creation, and engages with humankind, guiding it toward the abundance of life, even though there’s remarkable resistance to being guided anywhere not of our own choosing. He/She is unfinished with creation, watching over toddler humanity no better behaved than a herd of naughty three year olds.  We have been given the opportunity to mature into reconciliation with each other and all creation, able to enter into the fullness of holy time and space, yet no one is forced to go there. 

In this life the best one can do is get a foretaste of holy time, and then only at moments.  There are Buddhist and Christian disciplines intended to expand those moments a bit longer. The life of prayerful asceticism required calls few, certainly not me.

The rest of us are sometimes able to enter brief encounters with holy time in holy space.  It’s not space we can search out, but only discover ourselves in.  Celtic tradition calls them thin places. Such spaces were often commemorated with a sacred tree, spring or pile of rocks.  Monks built huts around them.  Churches were built on top of them and then cathedrals. For whatever other purposes they served, they were meant to set aside sacred spaces where holy space and time had once been experienced and might be again. 

Like anything sacred, there is abundant opportunity to corrupt it through selfishness, greed, and self righteousness. Power and profit are just lying there to grab.

Obviously there is more to be said, but as one Virginia matron said to me after a lecture on theology years ago, ”That’s enough of your glib palaver’, so I’ll stop here.

Rituals: Why Are They Important To Humankind?

A long time friend has an insatiable curiosity about everything on earth and in the heavens.  He’s also an Enlightenment man who has expressed little interest in things spiritual, even though our conversations often turn to matters of morality and a smattering of philosophy.  So I was surprised when he asked ‘why rituals are so important to people in all times and places?’  He didn’t ask what they are or how they work, but why are they important?

There must be thousands of books, articles and dissertations about rituals, but he asked my take on it, maybe because we are old friends, and I’m an Episcopal priest who won’t beat him over the head with a Bible and threats of hell.

I couldn’t answer the question of why without first going into the nature of rituals, what they are and how they work, which to my mind, helps explain why they are so important to humanity.  Rituals mark important transitions from the present to what is not yet the present.  All rituals are conditional and have a spiritual component, even if they are entirely secular.  But the spiritual nature of religious rituals are what come to mind most frequently, so it’s a good place to start.

Bar or Bat Mitzvahs are familiar rituals during which an adolescent passes from youth to adulthood, at least within the context of Jewish worship. The same might be said of Native American rituals that signify the transition from child to adult. Both involve engaging divine presence to bless entry into a new way of being. Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are celebrated on the condition that boy or girl can demonstrate adequate knowledge of Jewish tradition and scriptural Hebrew.  An American Indian boy has to demonstrate an encounter with the divine, and the courage to hunt for and defend the tribe. All rituals, whether religious or secular, follow a similar pattern, although secular rituals substitute tradition or magical thinking for the divine.

Christian rituals are governed by formal liturgies, at least in denominations arising from Catholic traditions. They mark significant transitions from one state of being to another seeking God’s blessing to make them holy: birth, death, marriage, absolution and the like.  All are conditioned on trusting acceptance of the blessing, through oaths of commitment.

Secular rituals, like the religious, mark transitions from the present to what is not yet the present.  If not overtly seeking divine blessings, they seek spiritual meaning from tradition.  Military Change of Command rituals, for example, are rich with tradition and a sense that there is a spiritual presence in it.  Following a tradition faithfully assures that it is passed on with spiritual integrity intact.  But rituals come in more mundane versions where tradition looks more like magical thinking. Most people have a ritual of morning ablutions that mark transition from a time of sleep to the world of work outside, often with a silent plea that the ‘fates or gods’ will be kind. If the rituals are not done properly, the day gets off to a bad start and nothing seems to go right.

Whether religious or secular, no one is forced to cooperate with the divine or spiritual.  Even while participating, one can be a passive observer, skeptical of faith in the ritual’s efficacy, and gaining no personal benefit from it.

The question yet remains: Why are rituals so important to humanity?

Western Enlightenment bequeathed a new way of understanding how the world works, and a new vocabulary to go with it. It ushered in the age of science and rapid technological advancement that has made modern life possible. The new vocabulary made it possible to articulate revolutionary ideas such as human rights, civil rights, the ability of the people to choose their own government and hold it accountable. It made divisions between classes more permeable. Excepting the exponential increase in the deadliness of war, it was for the most part good.  The price it extracted was to confine spiritual reality to superstition and the religiously fervent – tolerated to be sure, even adopted as a social requirement, but taken with a grain of salt.

Until then, it was commonly believed by scholars and peasants alike that the material reality of every day life coexisted with a spiritual reality of both good and evil. The Enlightenment could not erase the vague feeling that there was something divine and spiritual about existence, and wholeness of being could not be had without understanding something about it.

Maybe that’s what drives fads in new ageism, crystals, pyramids, and periodic religious revivals that flourish for a season. Even the most ardent atheist prays to unknown gods in charge of the weather, tee shots, promotions, good grades, and romantic love.  

It’s out of collective embarrassment that western culture tends to dismiss lingering echoes of spiritual reality to superstition and unsophisticated religious exuberance. Centuries of abuse from incompetent religious leaders has only exacerbated the skepticism. Why not put religious rituals in the same category as horoscopes and parking spot gods?  At least formal secular rituals have tradition to hold them up. 

Be that as it may, the hunger to rediscover the coexisting reality of the material and spiritual could not be erased in the Enlightenment.  Worthy as they are, formal secular rituals are a poor substitute for divine presence bringing wholeness.  As Augustine discovered, there is something missing in human nature that cannot be filled until it is filled by God.

Anglican Christianity is rooted in Celtic Christianity’s understanding that material and spiritual reality coexist to make creation whole. Centuries of adherence to Roman Catholicism, with all the turmoil of the Reformation, could not prevent it from being passed through generations, if only as a footnote to history implied in the liturgy and reflected in Anglican writing.

For Episcopalians, coexisting material and spiritual reality has its source in God and only God as revealed to us in Christ Jesus. It is teaching understood, by most I hope, that is not exclusive to Anglicanism or Christianity as a whole. Rituals of the church are passages through which we are invited to walk into new ways of being in God’s presence, making spiritual and material whole. Being human, even the most faithful often turn back or are distracted down side roads and dead ends. It’s why we regularly need the Eucharist where God comes to us spiritually and materially in the bread and wine of Holy Communion, nourishing us to resume the journey ahead.