Have you ever had a moment when you were doing something and then suddenly had a flashback of the earliest memory of your childhood that kept repeating?
I was reading a book about the body and blood of Christ by an author of black liturgies. While reading, it triggered my earliest memory, a flashback of my first memory when I was barely two years old. My first memory was the dining table. The table where parents put you in a high chair -- not a kid’s table. Of course, I don’t recall being in a high chair—no other memories of who was there or where I was. Most likely at my great grandparent’s home in Sacramento, CA., before I got sick and lost my hearing.
As the year went by, I was in kindergarten, known as my speech therapy school, I set the table in the cafeteria for my classmates. At that moment, I had a rush feeling pouring through my body, a very strange sensation. The feeling was deja vu, that it seemed to be recurring or something significant that I couldn’t recall. It happened very briefly before moving on. I didn’t pause to reflect because I was too young.
Mom or Nonnie, my mom’s mother, would put me in charge of setting the table while they cooked. Every time I set the table, there was the feeling again. The sense that makes you want to cry and joy at the same time. The feeling that I felt the presence of God in the room. The warmth, the love, and the sorrow that didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to tell anyone about it because somehow it’d come back again like it had previously.
One day, I decided to fix my family a meal and set the table with the same feeling. I asked myself if it was my calling to set the table or to wait tables at a restaurant. Immediately, my heart said to wait for the Lord, and my timing will come.
The waiting part scared me. I tried to have faith and know that Jesus was guiding me through the path alone, only the journey for me and Him. The world I looked ahead felt heavy, and then I realized the journey ahead of me would be long with obstacles; I broke down in emotional tears at my family’s table one Sunday mid-afternoon. Mom comforted me as she tried to understand what was going on. I was about to graduate high school and got accepted to a community college an hour away. It kind of frightened her as well as I was. We both knew we just needed to take one step at a time without trying to see the bigger picture. I never mentioned the feelings when setting the table. It would be confusing, and I didn’t want to worry her.
Once in a while, when I set the table, the feeling becomes a ritual, a reminder that I was meant to accept the sense of love and compassion that turned into a blessing before putting the meal on the table. My hands would get warm with tingling from my heart. During the pandemic, I finally asked again. The image came to my thought like my soul or the Holy Spirit wanted to show me. I saw the table with Jesus, the fully human being, and Christ’s lights radiant from within. It’s not the physical sight, but a vision that’s powerful that’s only provided by the Source of all things. The Bread and the Cup were on the table as He picked them up to give thanks; the meal became a Holy symbolism for us. There, I felt the Holy feelings, the spiritual food for our body, mind, and heart.
It all made sense, and I saw the Christ who loves all of us. I was moved. I felt the call. I felt as the first Apostles felt. I felt one with the Apostles and was led by them. At that moment, I decided to accept Christ’s mission. I yield my life to Him to live for Life, a being of light. A new gift emerged, the gift of interpreting feelings, which was to feel the Holy Spirit speaking without needing a physical ear. The Spirit of God can communicate with us in billions of ways. The mighty wonders will be revealed to all who show faith in Christ. Faith is a mountain that a few will climb.
When I started the local discernment vocational program, I joined the Altar Guild. The feeling didn’t come when I set up the sacristy for the priest. The concept of the altar isn’t a table like we sit to eat. The altar is a place for confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, then the Eucharist. The institution became more of a prayer worship center without a feast at the table, not the altar. Quite sad that all that dogma ruined it.
Traditionally, at the time of the Apostles, after Christ was resurrected, the table where they broke the bread and drank the cup after the main meal was as holy as it could be. Something about using the table where we gathered around to eat a traditional meal and afterward receive the Holy meal seems appropriate, a perfect time of remembrance at the end of the day. That is what it should be beyond the pews, beyond the altar.
The Table of Christ. The. Table.