Her story was utterly moving and utterly captivating. As a child, she is on a school residential trip away, enjoying time with her friends. Having fun. Being a teenager. Being young. They are camping out together in a large sports hall echoed with laughter. Their lives filled with hope for the future.
Then there is an explosion.
Noise. Chaos. Dust. Death.
After too much silence she crawls out from under the bodies of her dead friends.
It is 1992 and the beginnings of the Bosnian conflict. For days she goes on the run. Through woods and quiet places. Surviving. Somehow. Removing a wallet from a dead man. Hoping he won’t mind.
Years later, as an adult, finding herself finally in the UK after moving through several European countries, the flashbacks and fear fester away. Her mental health is imploding. Her childhood experiences weigh heavily and her response to everyday noises and incidents completely disproportionate.
After seeking help and falling often through care nets, she emerges as a woman who wants to understand what has been happening to her and she begins to study psychology. She is a mystery to herself and she wants to understand her mind, her life. She needs to enter the mystery of who and why she is. Her life is very different now.
We are indeed a mystery to ourselves. Rarely do many of us want to face up to who we are or get to grips with the meaning of our lives, with the mystery of our mind or the workings our heart. Perhaps it is too much to contemplate, too much to take even without the extreme experiences of that impressive woman.
As Christians, we are presented with a great mystery. The mystery of God and the mystery of who we are. Believing and belonging doesn’t always settle our minds. We’re human after all, and none of us is perfect.
And yet there is still that yearning to be settled and whole. To have an understanding or at least some insight into who we are and why we are.
“The mystery of who you are,” said St Augustine, “is laid upon the altar.”
He means that we find meaning in the Mass. The Eucharist is the means through which Christ’s saving love is made manifest. “When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again,” said St Paul.
We cannot get away from the death of Jesus. In the Eucharist, it is his death that we proclaim. A death which brings life. A life which brings love. A love which brings healing and wholeness and which understand the fragility of who we are and the difficulties we experience.
“We are what we eat,” so the well know health slogan goes. In the Eucharist we are fed with Christ’s body. And we become, we are, what we eat. We are Christ’s body in the world.
The mystery of the Eucharist not only tells us who we are but what we shall become. “God became human so that humans can become divine,” said St Augustine.
On the first Thursday of the month we gather in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, the body of Christ. And in gazing upon him we discover not only how much he loves us, a love which is expressed and proclaimed by his death on the cross but we also gaze upon the mystery of ourselves, who we are and what we shall become.
“We are God’s children now,” said St John, “and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
The mystery is deep and cannot be grasped with sound bites or harboured by headlines. Sometimes we simply need to look and wait and wonder. To spend some moments in silence and grateful contemplation.
There is nothing too clever about this. No gimmicks, no stage directions, little drama. Just watching and waiting and knowing or wanting to know.
Why not join us on Thursday 3rd December at 6pm as we spend some time in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and be drawn into the mystery of God who comes to dwell with us.