Friday, November 20, 2015


I have an auto-immune disease that was diagnosed when I was thirteen. Over the course of my life this disorder has caused me all sorts of grief, but as long as I keep up in treating it, it’s not likely to kill me directly. 
As one doctor who helped in diagnosing and treating a recent manifestation of the disease said, “it’s not life-threatening, but it’s certainly life-altering.” 
A little over four years ago I stopped eating gluten in an attempt to get some of the sideways mess of my health a little more under control.
And it has help exactly that much. A little.
But it has helped, and as far as I understand it, my situation will only get worse from here on in unless I stay off gluten… so, yeah. 
It’s not like I have Celiacs, just to be clear. My body reacts to the gluten, but it does it over time with joint pain and rashes and a few other phantom-like symptoms, rather than a violent, instant sick. 
Unfortunately, even when I am eating like an OCD monk I still have eczema and arthritis, so I’m always on a spectrum of discomfort to one degree or another.
I could probably just eat the bit of bread that comes with the sacrament with little to no immediate health bomb, but I have always been in wards with at least two or three Celiacs, so it has been easy to skip the bread and have whatever substitute they are already using for them. I just mention I need to have whatever GF fare they are already bringing to the Celiacs, and the Deacons add me to their list of people to deliver a Rice Chex, from a separate tray.
At least, it seems simple until the sacramental prayer has been said over the bread that has been torn and blessed by a young man holding the office of Priest, along with the tray of GF cereal bits.  Then the twelve and thirteen year old boys come streaming down the aisles. A solemn procession to pass the Sacrament to the waiting congregation. 
That’s when I get a little anxious. If the boy who has the tray is new, or doesn’t know who I am, or simply doesn't see me, should I just take a bit of bread along with the rest of my family as the tray makes it’s silent way down the row I am sitting on? Should I wait and hope the kind of sacrament I should be partaking will make it’s way to me? Do I just trust that it will get figured out?
I’ll be honest, when I am visiting other wards on vacation I just take the bread. It makes me dizzy to even contemplate making a fuss or introducing myself before the start of the meeting to ask that they bless and serve me some gluten free item or other that I provide or see if they have something they are already passing for Celiacs.
I would rather suffer a little illness or increased pain than go there.
So every Sunday I wait, trying to catch the eye of whichever young man is holding two separate trays in my own home ward.
It has been years of increased anxiety every Sunday as I navigate this. No making it up. I get a little weepy. 
I don’t mind being the special snowflake that I am, but I do mind calling attention to myself and requiring special treatment. Especially at a time set aside for sacred reflection it bugs me to feel like my needs make passing the Sacrament logistically difficult.
The past few months have been this; the hyper-vigilance over the passing of the bread, the weepiness… but with a lessening of the anxiety.
Maybe because I have been in this ward for two and a half years now, and I have gotten comfortable with an increased trust in the boys who live here. Maybe it is just the fact that I have been making a conscious effort to increase my spiritual living.
There is now something sacred about scanning the procession for the bearer of my Sacrament, and he, upon catching my eye has a moment of recognition. He was looking for me, among just a few others. I, personally am one of a particular few that he has a special duty to take a sacrament to. Along with the regular bits of torn bread in the tray in his other hand, he is looking for me.

That He might feed me that which will nourish and strengthen me as I renew my covenants. 
The past few weeks this realization has had me bawling like a baby, because I see that it has always been thus. 
The Savior of the World has always been there to serve the congregations of this world, but with a personal Sacrament just for me. He ministers one by one.

By the time the the water is blessed, and I take a cup from the same tray as all those who sit on the row with me, and drink, I ponder on the things I have learned. 

I miss bread, I do, but I am grateful for the tender mercies held out to me by The Good Shepherd. I am grateful for this example of how the Atonement works one individual at a time. It is a good reminder. 

This lesson. It is not a trade, but it is a consolation.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

That is beautiful, thanks for sharing your thoughts where we can benefit from them too.