I wasn't even 20 years old
the first time I got turned down as a blood donor.
Back then they did a test where they put a drop of blood into a vial,
and it had to sink, but mine floated--I was anemic.
Over the years I've been able to give once or twice a year,
and I usually prepare
by taking iron pills or eating avocados for a week.
For me there's always been that tense moment
waiting to see if my blood is good enough to give.
When it is, it's time for rejoicing
because the act of donating blood
is a spiritual experience for me.
First, there's the eight or ten minutes it takes for the pint to flow out,
time when I think of the person
whose health may be improved--
or even whose life may be saved--
because of a transfusion.
I pray for them.
Then I remember Jesus, how he poured out his life tending people,
how he shed his blood on the cross
because he chose to speak truth to power
and remain true to his values.
And I say a prayer of gratitude.
Then I think of the folks who would like to give blood but can't--
people who are too young or too sick,
people who are just getting over a bout of cancer,
people who have traveled to countries
where they've been exposed to blood-borne diseases,
people who have to take certain medications,
people who hate getting poked by needles.
And I pray for them, knowing they will give in other ways.
And after I finish donating my pint of blood,
I'll head for the table where donors have to wait
to make sure they're okay before they leave.
There will be a plate of cookies, and I'll take one.
I'll break a piece off
and remember all the Eucharists I've celebrated in my life,
including today's [tonight's],
and I'll talk with the other blood donors--
strangers who are briefly connected with me in this way--
and I'll pray for all the strangers I'll never meet
who are also connected with me
by virtue of our existence and God's grace.
The next time I give blood I'll also be thinking of Lonnie,
a 20-something who breakfasts down at Claver House.
He's a Baptist who graduated from a Catholic High School
and a Lutheran College.
A political science major, interesting to talk with.
Lonnie also did some time in the prison at Stryker,
so now he's jobless.
I found that out last week
when he left Claver as soon as he finished breakfast
so he could donate the plasma
that earns him just over $300 a month
so he can rent a room to stay in.
So I'll pray for Lonnie
and the hundreds of other Toledoans
who literally bleed twice a week
so they can stay straight and make it on the streets.
One of the things that strikes me
about our study of Michael Morwood
and the other philosophers, scientists, and theologians
who are exploring the reality of our world these days
is that we are all connected.
Ever since the Big Bang--the Cosmic Hatch--
energy and matter have danced in relationship,
forming the dynamic, evolving, ever-changing patterns
that we know as creation.
I'll be thinking of that connectedness next time I donate blood.
I'll pray that, before it's too late,
we humans will recognize
our responsibility for the harm we are doing
to the very planet that supports our life.
In a few minutes
we'll pray over the bread and wine at our Eucharistic table.
We recognize the Spirit of God among us,
and in each of us,
and in our assembly,
and in the bread and wine.
We remember how Jesus said,
"This is my Body"
and "This is my Blood,"
how his life of prayer and service
led him to express intuitively
the reality that science is only now pointing to:
that we are one with all of creation.
We will share the bread and wine,
and in doing so we will share the Body and Blood of Christ.
When we say "Amen" to the bread and wine--
to the Body and Blood of Christ--
we will say yes to our holy connectedness
and the universe
and each other.
Next weekend I'll be dropping in
at the 26th Annual Interfaith Blood Drive
to see if there's enough iron in my blood to donate this time.
If you can donate blood, I hope you'll be there, too.
If not. I hope you'll pray for all the people who need our blood--
the blood of our bodies,
the blood of our Eucharist,
the blood of our service,
the blood of our very lives.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.www.holyspirittoledo.org
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor