A Stunningly Beautiful Gesture in Church

Witnessing the tenderness of support between a disabled mother and her daughter at the communion rail.

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Posted in , Jul 11, 2017

A daughter supports a mother at church.

Every Sunday they are last in line for communion. The middle-age woman patiently pushes her mother in a wheelchair, in no hurry. The older woman wears dark glasses, and I suspect her vision is impaired. She sits very still.

I watch this pair every week, because every week it moves my heart. When they reach the front of the church the daughter steps quietly to the side and very gently lifts her mother’s hand so the host can be placed in it.

It is stunningly beautiful, a gesture of love and respect. The daughter could, after all, let her mom put her hand out randomly, without being able to see where the priest is. She could take the host and put it in her mother’s hand herself, or even in her mouth. That would be more efficient, and would get the job done. But instead she guides her mom’s hand to the right location, and lets her mother do the rest. The word for that, I think, is support: to help just as much as the other person needs, and no more.  

Then the daughter receives communion herself. She maneuvers the wheelchair to return to wherever they sit. I lean back in my seat and say a prayer of thanks: for the sensitivity of one human being to another, for the dedication needed to bring an invalid to church, for the eucharist itself.

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