At service this week, the priest began his sermon by breaking bread. To be honest, it was a little jarring. But he said, Through that gesture I convey a multitude of meaning and tradition. And it’s true.
I’ve encountered it in a lot of ways in the past days and weeks. The priest pointed to Mary of Bethany anointing the Lord with costly ointment. It was in the moment of sharing a hymnal with the girl next to me who was momentarily lost. Another experience of someone just being with me while I mourned the loss of the independence I once dreamed of.
Someone, another priest, pointed to an image of a woman that looks strikingly like a picture of the celebration Holy Communion. In the image, the woman is simply washing dishes, a simple everyday chore that has to be done. But the image conveys the love, the detail, the gravity of the task. The image, entitled St. Therese Doing the Dishes, captures the person of a simple sister who valued the little things in life, the small ways in which she could serve God.
In the same way, I see this little figurine. And there’s a power just in being. You don’t get the sense that the father and daughter are making something together or studying or even going anywhere. There’s just the love and peace that comes from being together. The compassion, the admiration.
They say action speaks louder than words. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps they also say, a gesture means more than anyone can know or tell.