Fasting, malls and the eucharist

ShoppingfloridamallI was told I’d need a taxi. Instead, I started out walking from the hotel east on Route 70 in search of a church where I could break my fast with communion. Cars whizzed by me as I walked where few had walked before. After 10 minutes, I spotted a steeple! "Wow, that was quick," I thought.

As I approached, I saw that it rested on a Wegman’s supermarket in a strip mall.

But ahead there was a bulbous roof. Could it be Greek Orthodox church? I bet they celebrate communion every week. But no, this round roof and turret sat on an Asian restaurant in yet another mall.

Mercedes_benz_logoThen I passed under the shadow of a cross, yet strangely shaped. Alas, there was no bread or wine – only shiny cars for sale and a bloated cat carcass by the curb.

Beyond the vast mall, chain restaurants and departments stores, I passed a cemetery and saw in the distance a white steeple. "Could that be the Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church?" I hoped. I really wanted to worship where they were celebrating World Communion Sunday.

Although at the same time, I know how wordy Presbyterian services can be. I would be just as happy to find a Catholic church where I pictured there would be more ritual, prayer, the host and a sip of wine. Sure enough, it was the Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, and it was packed.

I had made it there in 35 minutes, but mass had begun at 10:30, so at 11:05 the Ugandan priest was already leading up to Communion. (Luckily I hadn’t yet read the Introduction to Communion in the front of the hymnal, which disqualified me from participation – but ignorance was mine and I fully joined in the eucharist!)

The body of Christ melted on my tongue as I walked over to the Asian woman who wiped the chalice and offered me the blood of Christ. As I returned to the pew, the voices of children choir singing "Pescador de Hombres" rained down on me. (Here it is on Youtube if you can’t remember the tune)

We passed the peace and the Latina family a couple pews up from me were horsing around and hugging.

Then it was over. And each car swallowed up its designated passengers and off they went. I walked Bakedeggsouffledown the steps and headed west down Route 70. I walked to Panera and was blown away by the abundance of freshly baked breads and pastry creations. I ordered a fruit cup and an egg souffle pastry with four cheeses, artichoke and spinach. Oh, what richness to consume after fasting!

After eating, I set off again toward the hotel and conference on community food security. As I passed the cathedrals of capitalism, as whizzing cars passed me, I wondered how long this lifestyle could possibly last…