Starting Point
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Issue Date:  February 25, 2005

Starting Point


One late summer evening driving through Mississippi, I stopped in a small restaurant not far from a town called So-So. I sat in a booth by myself and in another booth sat a young couple. They were deaf. They communicated with smiles, frowns, raised eyebrows, nods of the head and sign language.

Later, as I drove on to Louisiana, I thought about the worlds of meaning that the couple shared in love and shared in silence. Would their lives have been richer with hearing and speaking? Perhaps. Perhaps not. They seemed to have learned to partake fully of the feast that is life.

Jesus was not a theologian in the sense that he went into a lot of detail about what the Eucharist “is.” He taught through his life by example. Only later did the eloquence of words approach the eloquence of his example. Only gradually did pages fill with words and the air with language trying to explain what Jesus taught by example.

The Eucharist, too, teaches by example. The life of God is not simply given. It is shared. God’s life broken into living pieces can be given away, again and again, and there will be more left over.

What we are given is to be shared. We may speak of it later, and wonder about it, but as that couple near So-So know, talking is good, but not of the essence.

There is a world to be shared prior to its analysis, and that sharing is the living sign of God in our midst.

It can be a long and lonely ride from So-So, Miss., to Covington, La. But that couple rode with me in silence, even though I had left them in a physical sense in the restaurant. Through them, silence spoke a warm language and it rode with me.

Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, February 25, 2005

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