Monday, October 29, 2012

303/366: Wafers and Cookies

As with many other East Coasters, I visited our grocery store this morning before the storm for bread, cereal, and cheese.  Cheese makes me happy in stressful times.

And so do cookies.

Look what I found!  Gingerbread Men!  So dapper with their buttons.

Being gluten free isn't always fun. When a new product hits the shelves, it makes me happy.  Even if I don't buy it or like it, it makes me aware of all the other people (1 in 133 Americans) that have Celiac.  There are a handful of items that I wish I could have:  Jingles Anise Cookies; a real flour burrito; real Buffalo Pizza with an airy, bubbly crust; and Communion Wafers. I'm pretending these gingerbread men are my substitute for the Jingles Cookies...they are close, so I think I can cross Jingles off my 'wish' list.  There are so many mainstream products out there that make life a bit easier for folks with Celiac or with a gluten allergy.  And it isn't a disease that will shorten my life or not allow me to do physical activities, for that, I am grateful.

Yesterday, we all went to church.  I used to avoid (any) church on Communion Days, we used to only have communion twice a month, now, every Sunday.  I can't eat the (gluten) communion wafer and it is usually offered "chip and dip" style, where the congregation dips their gluten containing wafer into the cup of wine, rendering it contaminated for Celiacs.  We had thought of switching churches to be closer to home, and so the boys might have schoolmates going to the same church.  But the communion wafer was always on my mind.  At this church, I knew many in the congregation, I was close with the Pastor, it was comfortable and a simple blessing was okay for me.  I was married at this church, both boys were baptized there, I worked there, for all intents and purposes, this is my church.  Unfortunately, when it came to communion, I didn't feel welcome.  Communion is so personal, so important to the whole service, and the one part that gives me much anxiety.

Several years ago, I bought the church some gluten free communion wafers.  I was finally feeling safe.  Welcomed.  An equal part of the church community.  They even have it written in the program, every week.  If you need a gluten free wafer, ask the Pastor.

The ease of communion was a hit or miss event.  When communion assistants I knew were offering, they would have it ready when I approached the kneeling bench.  Lately, with an interim pastor and assistants that don't know that I am Gluten Free, and our sporadic attendance,  it has been tough.  I'd rather just sit in my pew, than go up there and have ask for something different, holding up the line.  It isn't so much embarrassing, as it is me not wanting to make a stink.  But you know what?  It hurts.

Yesterday, I saw the acolyte holding the small dish of gluten free wafers, so was certain that I would at least get the bread.  But, in a flustered, confused moment, I got nothing.  Just a "I think they may be on the altar".  No blessing.  No attempt to locate.  Moving on to my friend next to me.  Thankful that it was my friend was next to me, we could nervously laugh at the strangeness of all of it.

This has never happened before and I think it was just a moment in which the Pastor didn't even know he had gluten free wafers. I don't blame him. It was an unfortunate event.

As I walked back to my pew, I looked in the eyes of all the other people.  People that were able to have communion.  To taste the body and the blood.  And I was less than them.  The tears welled up in my eyes.

Please don't think I want you to pity me.  In fact, after writing this, it feels a bit selfish. 

It's just a symbol. 

It's a disc of wheat that tastes like Styrofoam. 

It's a light on how a simple ritual that is meant to bring us all together, distinctly separates us.

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For any (non-catholic) church that doesn't offer gluten free wafers, they are available here. 
Here is an article regarding the Catholic church's take on gluten free wafers.


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