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My husband  and I returned late yesterday afternoon from a short trip from Winston-Salem to West Virginia.  (See map)   The purpose of the trip was to enjoy the fall color, which was abundant although past its peak at the highest elevations.

Our first stop was Thurmond, just north of Beckley on Highway 19 in the West Virginia coal mining district of Fayette County.  (See map)  We enjoyed  a good museum in the old depot  and a short walk to the abandoned building of the old railroad town.

Our next stop, still in the New River Gorge and also on the map, was Hawks Nest State Park.  Here the view was panoramic.

Then we made the long drive from Fayette County through beautiful mountain color to Pocahontas County (See county map to show distance) and the Morning Glory Inn where we stayed in Room 203.  This put us close to our Tuesday destination–the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.  (See Map)

We arrived at Cass before ten on Tuesday morning and were able to tour the engine shops, including one where an old Heisler is being completely rebuilt, before we caught the noon train for the  four and a half hour ride up to Bald Knob and back with a stop midway at Whittacker StationShay #6 was our engine. The wooded mountain was covered with fall color, red berries on the Mountain Ash, rocks, evergreens, moss, and yellow flowering ferns.  We brought our lunch and ate on the train.  We ate supper at the Last Run Restaurant before leaving about 6 pm to head back to the Morning Glory Bed and Breakfast.

Wednesday morning, the sky threatened rain, and we had heard rumors of snow flurries that turned out to be false.  After breakfast, we left about nine for the long but beautiful drive home.   We had mist and light rain, but nothing to spoil our view.  On our way home, we stopped at Shelton Vineyards near Mt. Airy, NC.  for a tour, wine tasting, and to pick up a couple of bottles of wine.  Then we returned home, satisfied with a fun, three-day trip.

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it.  Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God’s healing love?  Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life?  Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God’s promise stands unshaken?   To believe is to answer yes to these questions.

emphasis mine

I have a new poem “Away” on vox poetica.

Many thanks to Paul Corman-Roberts who has posted a new book review of Seriously Dangerous at Full of Crow.

“Unlike so many poets who remain balkanized within the paradigms of their belief models, the reader gets the sense that Losse welcomes all comers, that her model is fully engage anything the cosmos seems willing to send her way.  The poet is above all things, a citizen of the universe, and Helen Losse’s delicate renditions of this awareness emphasizes their own quiet intensity in the shared sense of being.”  read more

As we gather around the Eucharistic table and make the death and resurrection of Jesus our own by sharing in the “bread of life” and the “cup of salvation,” we become together the living body of Christ.

The Eucharist is the sacrament by which we become one body.  Becoming one body is not becoming a team or a group or even a fellowship.  Becoming one body is becoming the body of Christ.  It is becoming the living Lord, visibly present in the world.  It is – as often has been said – becoming the mystical Body of Christ.   But mystical and real are the same in the realm of the Spirit.

emphasis mine

When we gather around the Eucharistic table and eat from the same bread and drink from the same cup, saying,  “This is the Body and Blood of Christ,” we become the living Christ, here and now.

Our faith in Jesus is not our belief that Jesus, the Son of God, lived long ago, performed great miracles, presented wise teachings, died for us on the cross, and rose from the grave.  It first of all means that we fully accept the truth that Jesus lives within us and fulfills his divine ministry in and through us.  This spiritual knowledge of the Christ living in us is what allows us to affirm fully the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection as historic events.  It is the Christ in us who reveals to us the Christ in history.

emphasis mine

When the two disciples recognised Jesus as he broke the bread for them in their house in Emmaus, he “vanished from their sight” (Luke 24:31).  The recognition and the disappearance of Jesus are one and the same event.  Why?  Because the disciples recognised that their Lord Jesus, the Christ, now lives in them … that they have become Christ-bearers.  Therefore, Jesus no longer sits across the table from them as the stranger, the guest, the friend with whom they can speak and from whom they can receive good counsel.  He has become one with them.  He has given them his own Spirit of Love.  Their companion on the journey has become the companion of their souls.  They are alive, yet it is no longer them, but Christ living in them (see Galatians 2:20).

emphasis mine

When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another.  We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and pistols attached to our belts.  When we break bread together we leave our arms – whether they are physical or mental – at the door  and enter into a place of mutual vulnerability and trust.

The beauty of the Eucharist is precisely that it is the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal.  When we break bread and give it to each other, fear vanishes and God becomes very close.

emphasis mine

My poem, “Beautiful, Terrible Vine,” is in the October issue of Lily.  Thanks to Susan Culber-Graybeal.

Also thanks to Molly Fisk and Philip DeLoach.

The two disciples whom Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus recognised him in the breaking of the bread.   What is a more common, ordinary gesture than breaking bread?  It may be the most human of all human gestures:  a gesture of hospitality, friendship, care, and the desire to be together.  Taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it to those seated around the table signifies unity, community, and peace.   When Jesus does this he does the most ordinary as well as the most extraordinary.  It is the most human as well as the most divine gesture.

The great mystery is that this daily and most human gesture is the way we recognise the presence of Christ among us.  God becomes most present when we are most human.

emphasis mine

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