It was nearing midnight and the groom was at the grill, slight perspiration developing above his still-fastened tie. We sat around the fire pit, abandoned by the other wedding guests, the bride’s glow further lit by the glow of the flames.
Every few minutes the gleeful groom made his way around the circle with a plate of meat leftover from the BBQ, often explaining to us a Brazilian tradition that went along with whatever he was serving. The most popular by any measure were the Brazilian rum shooters followed by meat chasers.
A vegetarian with a frail constitution, I was in no position to partake in either the shots or the chasers. I sipped on a tiny cup, happily sampling the rum while my closer friends from college were fed and filled, delighted with this offering and shocked no one had thought of it before.
I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t see the sacrament until one friend, with some effort at stealth, dipped his meat directly in the cup like intinction. The firelight didn’t give him enough cover to be surreptitious and we all laughed, admiring his creativity.
Don’t ever try to tell me that love is invisible. I saw it around the fire as surely as I did standing by the pool as my friends took their vows. I heard it in our laughter and tasted it on the rim of the plastic cup that the groom urged to my lips. The smell of the fire and even of the meat infused the air around me with grace.
Grace: undeserved, unexpected, intangible and yet perceptible by all of our senses. We gather in sanctuaries to light candles, to wash and be fed. We train our hearts to feel God’s presence beneath stained glass and in dappled shadows. We long for the aroma of incense and melting wax to call us into communion. But communion is always available to us, the fragrance of grace always ready to be inhaled, even as you’re leaning back in a lawn chair, watching, laughing and loving.