beggars all

by Elouise

St. John's Abbey Church Interior

feet shuffle
down multiple aisles
approach the altar
sacraments of life
and death remembered

the sound of shoes
resonates against concrete
moves us to receive
hope for life and death
a crumb and a drop
spiritual food for body and soul

It’s 1980-something. I’m sitting in a long pew just beneath the balcony in St. John’s Abbey Church. The sanctuary is full of visitors, members, and local residents of Collegeville, Minnesota. We’ve begun moving forward to multiple stations where we’ll receive the sacraments. This is an ecumenical Eucharist; all are welcome.

It isn’t far to the stations set up near the center of the sanctuary. Architect Marcel Breuer collaborated with Benedictine monks to design this space. They ensured no one would be more than 85 feet from the altar. They also excluded columns, drapes and sound baffles.

No ecumenical Eucharist has moved me to tears as this did. It was the sound. It wasn’t the readings or the homily, or even the hymns. It was the inescapable sound of feet shuffling along the concrete. Beggars all, slowly making our way forward and then back to our seats. Like the thief on the cross. The one who didn’t stay sitting in his seat, but got up and led the first procession to the cross on which Jesus lived and died for us.

I first posted this on 30 September 2015. Yesterday I noticed someone had read it. So I checked it out.

I couldn’t help making a connection with recent events here in the USA. No one event captures everything. Instead we’re faced daily with more evidence that things fall apart, and that nothing we do can put them back together.

Yet we have every reason to hope. Not because we’re people of good will, love everyone, exercise deeds of kindness and mercy, or anything else we might find praiseworthy. Rather, it’s because of what God offers us through Jesus Christ.

All we need to do is get up out of our seats and get in line behind the thief on the cross. Offering ourselves just as we are, and counting only on God’s great mercy.

Praying you find rest for whatever is wearying you this Sabbath.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 August 2017
Photo found at