There’s a distinct possibility I’m going to be on the receiving end of a one-way ticket to h*ll for this one, my friends. However, in my defense, this incident took place when I was only nine.
So there’s that “suffer the little children and forbid them not to come unto me” clause in my contract I’m going to envoke if required.
I don’t give a hoot if right now I’m older than dirt.
Many of you know I spent a ton of my formative years in a protestant environment. How could I not? My grandpappy and dear old dad were both Methodist ministers.
Ah, that certainly explains a lot about me, right?
Okay, don’t go there. Well, you may anyway once I share this one with you.
Back in my day during the Jurrasic period, the Eucharist, also known as Communion, took place once a month at the churches my granddad and father served.
I’ll not drone on about the spiritual symbolism and prattle about religious beliefs here. This is not the point of the story, nor do I intend to proffer thoughts of how each of you should practice reaching your own individual state of zen.
None of my business.
This story is about a nine-year-old who just happened to be in two less than desirous conditions when my father and grandfather shared Communion responsibilities at my dad’s church.
I was hungry and boy was I thirsty.
Now, because I was only nine at the time, the “Church” had a rule about who could, who should, and who would be able to partake in the “blood” and “body” of Christ.
And though as hungry and thirsty as I was at the time, because of my age, I still drew the short straw. Just like all the other times.
Sitting there on that pew that particular Sunday was like trying to watch a ballgame from the nosebleed section. You see a bit of the action, but never get to enjoy the experience close up and personal.
So, I sat on my hands while the congregation knelt, and my granddad and father passed out all the goodies. And I squirmed in anguish as I watched each one of them take a tiny morsel of bread, chew it, then toss back a single shot of drink to wash it down.
All the while, my intestines twisted themselves into knots, and my stomach groaned. My mouth grew pasty and dry as I continued to endure the torture of watching the entire congregation getting to eat and drink in front of my very eyes.
It was maddening.
How dare they think it’s okay to deny a child? A small innocent child such as I? Okay, I’ll admit it. At least I got the small part right.
I know you’re all thinking I, poor little P.G. had suffered enough, right? Well, you should be. It was a shame I tell you, a d*mned shame, they would do that to a nine-year-old kid.
But that was just the beginning.
There was still the sermon I had to sit and listen to while not dozing off. Hey, the least they could let me do was take a nap and try to sleep off the hunger and thirst pangs.
Much to my dismay, on this day, just like all the other Sundays my mom had other ideas.
My mother possessed a strange physical distortion, which, even to this day, leads me to believe she was an alien.
Evidently, she possessed a swath of invisible feelers with eyeballs attached to them, which provided her a three-sixty view of everything going on around her.
Even when she seemed to be intently focused on my grandfather as he stood behind the pulpit and delivered his message.
Each time I nodded off, those d*mned elbows of hers found their way into the fleshy expanse between my ribs with unerring accuracy, jolting me back into consciousness. Every time I was startled awake, I remembered just how hungry and thirsty I was.
If there has ever been torture created to drive children absolutely insane, this was probably it.
Oh yeah. And school.
Yeah, that’s another torture created to drive all children bat-s*it crazy.
The only positive thing about this day was I knew we were getting close to the end of the sermon. I saw my father sitting behind my grandfather checking his watch.
I knew what that meant.
Wrap it up Dad, the Cowboys play in twenty minutes.
The sermon ended with a blissfully short prayer, a resounding amen and everyone sang the Domini Patris song and headed for the exits.
But not me.
This was my moment, the one moment where I was left to my own devices as my mom stood alongside my grandfather, grandmother, and dad to press flesh and chit chat with the parishioners.
I fixed a stare on all the shot glasses lining the alter. I gazed longingly at the partially torn single loaf of bread.
It was go time.
With the loaf of bread in one hand and starting at the far end of the alter, I began to systematically eradicate the bread between glass after glass of grape juice remnants.
It was just bread for crying out loud. It was merely Welch’s grape juice in them thar glasses.
I wasn’t committing armed robbery or anything. I mean, the parishioners all left the bread, and they didn’t finish drinking the grape juice. I was trying to do my part for sustainability.
Even though the only thing I was trying to sustain was me.
My mother discovered me with crumbs on my mouth and shirt and a shot glass of Welch’s in each hand.
To hear her and my father tell it, I had just performed a moral sacrilege, shown disrespect to God and the faith, and to all that was holy. How dare I even think of doing such as thing?
Unless I immediately begged forgiveness, I was going to hell, and if that didn’t happen quickly enough, I was going to have my a*s whupped.
A lot of the parishioners saw what I’d done as well. Although my mother continued to browbeat and scold me, they all chuckled with amusement at my antics.
Most of them were used to a lot of the dumb stuff I did even back then.
In hindsight, I don’t think I got in trouble because I drank grape juice and ate bread in my own communal fashion.
I think I, as usual, I severely embarrassed my parents. According to them, I did that a lot. But no matter, at least I wasn’t hungry or thirsty anymore.
For penance, I had to tend to the hogs and horses immediately after Sunday lunch instead of getting to watch the Cowboys play.
No matter, they lost anyway.
Somethings never change.
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