This poem by Helen Jesty was inspired by her experiences of conducting Holy Communion services in care homes in Marlfield. It is reproduced with her permission.
What Sweet Communion
The Table is set with Cloth, Chalice and Cross.
The Candles are lit.
Peter is sleeping, Gwen sits
The silence broken by Bargain Hunt
No one is watching.
More come in wheel chairs and others
slowly walk in with frames.
It's so lovely to see you
Thank you dear, you too.
'The Lord is here, his spirit is with us.'
Verity's eyes find one word in The Service, then the next
Lips move slowly and out comes some sound
Saliva too unbidden, falls in a pool on her lap
Along with her hearing aid that won't stay in.
'Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come.'
Excuse me, says Lily coughing, sorry to bother you
Could I have some water, please?
Here is water, Lily, says Elizabeth
She clasps the glass
Lifting it to Lily's lips, her hands shaking just a little.
Have a sip, Lily, that's right
Is that enough? Another little sip, Lily, slowly.
'My soul shall be healed.'
The tea trolley clatters down the corridor
A carer calls out a kindly greeting to a relative
A nurse comes in and distributes some pills.
'Take and eat in Remembrance of Me.'
Have you met Alison? asks Peter as he wakes
You would love Alison
I would love to meet Alison, Peter
One day, one day.
'The blood of Christ, given for you, Peter.'
If you want the coffee instead, that's fine
We are all relaxed here, Peter,
One day I will meet Alison, yes.
Yes, I would very much like to meet Alison
I pray for Ruth's relative struggling with cancer
I listen to Olive who is unsure when her family is coming,
'We're all bonkers here' she says and smiles.
'And now may the Blessing of God be with us all.'
Jenny, as you sit dozing,
You are a Blessing to me
Muriel what a Blessing you are!
Yes, I will go and sit with your sister, Mary
Muriel tells me, 'she will like that',
'Thank you muchly', she says.
Peter, Gwen, Verity, Lily, Elizabeth
What sweet communion is this.
Ruth, Olive, Muriel, Jenny
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.
'The Blessing of God with us all
Now and for evermore.'
Helen Jesty, 12 October 2014