Gift of ground, this earth seed, grain
and grinding, labour of loam and light,
labour of leaf and hand,
brought by hand
Gift of ground, this earth fruit, grape
and grafting, labour of soil and sun,
labour of vine and vintner,
brought by hand
I want to begin, but not necessarily end, with an ideal picture. Let me suggest that in the matter of bread and wine, the matter of women's and men's bodies and blood, and in the particular human communities gathered to celebrate, Eucharist brings into focus the reality of Earth-being as interconnected and interdependent. Not only do I hope that this ideal picture is real, but from time to time I experience it as such. At the same time, Eucharist can enable us to understand and live, from the deep knowledge that we are inextricably part of the Earth community. Two aspects of the sacrament of Eucharist—as sign and grace—not only turn us toward Earth, but themselves spring from an Earth community that, while not necessarily divine, carries a material transcendence that co-inheres with the immanent otherness of God.
By material transcendence, I refer to the otherness (alterity) that is proper to the matter from which all things in the cosmos—stars, rocks, minerals, air, water, plants, animals, including humans—are composed, an otherness toward which humans can orient themselves in openness and humility. Since humans are part of a more than human cosmos, this otherness is also an otherness within humans. Humans share in the materiality of all creatures, from distant suns to the dust on the windowsill and the micro-organisms that inhabit human intestines.