I have shared fun conversations with Maria Evans about how we both love to serve at the altar. She talks about loving to serve with the shiny, holy things, and I resonate with what she writes.
If you have been watching my blog, you know that I dearly love to serve as crucifer in my parish. You’ll know that it’s an “urban legend” that I have been known to lock our kids in the boiler room just so that I could serve as crucifer at high holy feasts like Easter and Christmas. Not true, in fact … though I am amused by that story.
I always want to serve as crucifer. But I don’t get to do so very often, because our kids get to be the acolytes.
So imagine my surprise Sunday, May 15, when I got to church, and the acolyte director grabbed me, asking if I could serve for our young crucifer, whose back was hurting. Well, DUH! Of course I would!
As always seems to happen, I was both completely absorbed in the liturgy and totally focused on our priest and what she might need.
Back in the sacristy after the liturgy, one of our Altar Guild members said how much she had appreciated my service. She didn't just say that. She said that watching me serve as crucifer helped her worship.
I said something like this to her, about how/why I love to serve as crucifer: “I don’t understand it. But somehow – when I’m serving as crucifer – I move into some sort of different consciousness. I’m more focused on every moment of the liturgy. It’s like I step out of myself. I lose myself, and all I see is liturgy.”
It’s true. When I serve as crucifer, I know that I am one of the highly visible people around the altar. But I feel that I’m invisible as I move into that role. I disappear. What a strange paradox.
I got to serve as crucifer again last Sunday, because our young crucifer couldn’t serve. I felt greatly blessed. That day, I felt doubly blessed because Marc Smith –who was raised up from our parish toward ordination – came back to serve one last time, as he will soon have his own parish. I had the experience of being crucifer and helping him set the altar. All the “holy time” I generally feel was multiplied in this experience with my friend – whose discernment committee I chaired. It was a jaw-dropping experience of The Holy.
In a way, I was profoundly aware of serving with him at the altar. In another way, I lost myself completely at the altar. I don't understand how this happens, but I know it happens ... in ways that are significant to me.
I am so very grateful for the experiences that I get to have as crucifer! I don't know that I have expressed it well here, but I bet some of you understand.