Ever hear someone say this or that is a “watershed moment”? Sometimes, we’re referring to events on a world scale – like the end of World War II, the end of slavery in America, or the emancipation of women to be considered full persons under the law, realizing their freedom and right to vote. Sometimes, we’re trying to talk about something in our personal lives that has turned everything upside down and fundamentally changed how we see and experience the world around us – like when a son or daughter was born or adopted, when a loved one died, when we discovered who we wanted to be when we grew up.
Ok, I prefer to just commit to growing. Growing up is so much less fun.
One thing is for sure, when these moments occur in our lives and in our world, they set off a cascade of ripples that remind us – things are not going to be the same.
When rain falls on a watershed, it’s split by that highest point of contact. Immediately, there’s a kind of decision or choice that’s made – either the water will run down this side of the mountain or the other. Sometimes that decision is made by literally a few inches, but once it happens, there’s no going back.
These days, many of us are wondering about such moments. Will Boston be a watershed moment not only for America, but for us all? Will 8 year old Martin Richards sign “No More Hurting People” become a cry for overcoming the differences we allow human hatred and violence to exploit? Will the Rehteah Parsons case be the foundation for a new way of thinking about how both women and men of all ages, see and treat one another in our society? The jury isn’t in yet – but there is hope.
I was reading about one such watershed moment for Sara Miles. Sara wrote “Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion” and while I haven’t read the book, I’d like to. A couple of those words probably send collective shudders up our spine given the news of late. “Radical” and “Conversion” seem to be at the heart of the worst that religions of all shades seem to offer. And to be honest, what we mean by conversion varies and has been used as an oppressive tool of empire and exploitation within the Christian tradition among others. But just take a closer look:
“One early, cloudy morning when I was forty-six, I walked into a church, ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine. A routine Sunday activity for tens of millions of Americans — except that up until that moment I’d led a thoroughly secular life, at best indifferent to religion, more often appalled by its fundamentalist crusades. This was my first communion. It changed everything.
Eating Jesus, as I did that day to my great astonishment, led me against all my expectations to a faith I’d scorned and work I’d never imagined. The mysterious sacrament turned out to be not a symbolic wafer at all, but actual food — indeed, the bread of life.
In that shocking moment of communion, fil