Deep within me, even as a teenager, I knew deep down that blood was of huge significance to the Christian faith. I became a Christian quite by accident I suppose at the age of ten when I chose to get baptized because all of my friends were doing it in response to a prayer we had all prayed supposedly asking Jesus into our hearts. Theoretically I knew that the blood of Jesus was the big deal, the thing that actually bought our salvation, but practically I had no idea what on earth that meant.
About three years later, I saw a TV program where a young teenage girl got a razor blade and cut her wrists. I thought this was the best idea that I had come across in a long time and so beginning at age thirteen, I began cutting myself. For me it was about the blood, the drawing of blood when I cut gave me some kind of emotional release. Although this is probably disturbing to many readers, I instinctively licked the blood, and treated it as if it were sacred.
Over the years of my fundamentalist and evangelical life, I partook of communion often, careful to let people know that I wasn’t Catholic, as in, I did not believe that the grape juice in the little shot glasses turned into the blood of Christ. After all, my mother had told us, we weren’t cannibals, and it would be essentially cannibalism to take communion if you believed you were consuming literal flesh and blood. Back then that sounded reasonable and I went along with that thought, although often feeling guilty for the fact that I let my own blood flow and then licked it up. I was a disgusting freak and nobody else needed to ever know.
My all time favorite hymn growing up was “There is a Fountain” although I never really understood why but the words: “there is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” Somehow I understood that the blood of Christ was significant, but I wasn’t aware of how.
When I was twenty-nine, God shoved me into the Episcopal Church. I took of communion that first day I visited although I was nervous about it, and realized that I had partaken of the very blood of Christ and his flesh. I had told a friend that I would visit the church but I wasn’t sure I could go along with the bread and the wine being the literal body and blood of Christ thing. But my mind was changed that first time, when I was offered that consecrated bread, the literal body of Christ, from a man who I had offended, and the wine, the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation.
I still don’t know that I understand the full significance of the blood of Christ, but it sure helps to keep my faith nourished when I go to mass every week. I no longer slice my own wrists, making my own body bleed, in an effort to punish myself or make me feel better. I no longer lick blood flowing from my body and treating it as sacred but not understanding why.
The Bible says that the life of the flesh is in the blood. I eat and drink the life of Christ every Sunday. God gave it to us as a gift so