Chapter 14 Communion

In the award-winning Broadway musical, Wicked, there is a moment when Galinda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch, part ways after Ephpaba decides that she can no longer serve the great and powerful Oz.  After having developed a great friendship with Galinda, she knows that she cannot and must not follow in her service to Oz.  Although their ways will soon diverge, the song which they share ends with one simple and yet profound phrase sung together by each character: “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” 

In Chapter 14, we read from the founder of L’Arche Community, Jean Vanier.  He shares some of his story and reminds us that communion is something that happens  in addition to the breaking of bread around the Table.  Communion is a growth that takes place, or perhaps, a development that slowly reveals itself like the petals of a flower, slowly but confidently emerging from the small, closed bud that once protected them.  As I understand Mr. Vanier’s reflection, communion is being able to walk along with the Other as we each discover and grow into who God has always known us to be.  This growth, however, cannot be done in a hostile or negative environment, instead, it takes place among those with whom we can share our stories and become vulnerable.  Communion takes place in a progression of time that moves us forward even as we recognize and leave the past behind us.  Communion, then, is indeed about “accepting people just as they are, with all their limits and inner pain, but also with their gifts and their beauty and their capacity to grow.”  This communion is held in a sacred trust to which each member is invited to enter.  As a community, we too are called to enter this communion with one another and with the Founding Document.  As we do, we discover not only that our vocation helps us find the liberation of becoming who God has known us to be, but it also invites us to walk with others as they trod their own way.  Communion in this regard is a profound truth that we participate in as we share in love and come together in the safe spaces that this love creates.  This also reminds me of our call to Universal Citizenship, a call which moves me toward the Other, even as I discover who I am in this communion. 

Another element of communion that I have found in the Ecumenical Order of Charity, is that our individuality is not forced to change, yes, change does occur as we interact and grow to love one another, but this love does not demand that we change before we are ready.  Instead, as Mr. Vanier states, “you are you, and I am I.”  Communion does not force us into becoming who others want us to be, but with others, we discover who God has made us to be and we blossom into the person God knows. 

As Elphaba is given the task of choosing a life of growth on her own, or a life of subsistence with Oz, she is clear that her journey will take her along a different path.  So too, our own journey in communion and in community, we are carried by our charisms and Founding Document as a community, and in finding who we are, we welcome and celebrate the growth in others.  Ultimately, this love allows us the liberty to recognize where we are called to go and who we are called to become and as we do, perhaps we too can find that we have been changed for good.