There are moments in my life that stand out like shiny new coins. These moments are clearer, crisper. They’re full-blown,
I’ve always referred to these times as Eucharist Moments not because I’m religious, but because the original meaning of Eucharist in Greek is thanksgiving, gratitude. Because those moments are so complete when I’m in them, what I feel is thankfulness, gratitude that I’m me, and that I am even MORE me than I realize.
I remember one such moment when my husband, Raymond, and I were in Philadelphia. We had driven all night to get there. It was summer, hot, humid and thick. We were there for a very short time for a series of meetings, the details of which escape me now. But the Eucharist Moment is as brilliant as if it had happened only yesterday.
We’d managed early check-in at our hotel, stashed our bags and went immediately out to explore. That meant we were out in the heat most of the day playing tourist. We didn’t have a lot of time, and we wanted to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Christ Church, walk through the Old Town and cram in anything else we could before the sleepless night caught up with us. By the middle of the afternoon, we were parched and positively wilted. We were too tired to go out for a late lunch so we stopped in at a small local shop and bought a box of Ritz crackers, a small jar of peanut butter and some Lipton teabags. Back in our hotel room, Raymond ran down the hall for ice, and I made tea in the coffee maker – a well-known practice among iced tea addicts everywhere. We poured the tea, still hot, over the ice into the small hotel room glasses. I don’t remember where we got it, but we had a plastic picnic knife. We ate peanut butter spread thickly on Ritz crackers and washed it all down with freshly brewed iced tea while we discuss the adventures of the day.
I’ve had a lot of great meals in my life in a lot of nice restaurants and in a lot of amazing places, but I’ve never had one better than that one. The shades were drawn and the room was cool and quiet after the noisy heat of the street. The tea had that lovely crisp, bronze bite that only freshly brewed tea has, and the aroma of it filled the whole room. We sat with our bare feet kicked up on the coffee table, passing the plastic knife back and forth, spreading peanut buttery goodness on crunchy, crumbly crackers. We ate until our t-shirts were covered with crumbs. We ate until we were both replete and drowsy and happily, quietly amazed that we were actually in Philadelphia, seeing all the things we’d only ever read about in history books. Afterwards we napped sprawled across the king-sized bed, and when we woke late afternoon was leaning heavily toward evening, and we were ready to go out again. It was the simplest of experiences, and yet all these years on it still shines in my memory.
The best writing is a treasure map of Eucharist Moments. Anyone who has ever read a story or a novel full of the grocery lists which make up every day life knows how boring that is, and how quickly we lose interest. Good stories that stay with us long after we’ve finished them, the stories we just can’t put down, are a stringing together of those Eucharist Moments, those moments of clarity, those moments of sloppy poignant full-frontal, in-your-face humanity, and pleased to be there. In novels, just as in real life, those moments are best when they’re hard earned and well anticipated.
Not surprisingly those moments are as fabulous to write about as they are to read about. Whether we’re the reader or the writer, Eucharist Moments in a story are the next best thing to being there. They draw us into the plot in the same way they draw us into life. They are the points where the story reaches out to us, touches us and becomes a living, breathing thing. They may last only the length of a few words, and they’re seldom longer than a few pages, which is just as well because the intense purity, the clarity with which those moments shine would be too much to bear for 250 pages.
The best writers, at least in my opinion, know how to string those Eucharist Moments together, leading the reader from one to the next, to the next, through to the end. Those moments are the guiding lights through even the darkest, most twisted of plots. They move us forward to discover what secret the writer has hidden at the end of the journey. If it’s well
This is just as true of erotica as it is of any genre. While stringing together sex scenes is not creating a story, sex scenes can often be those Eucharist Moments along the path of the story’s plot. They can be the moments of pure, unabashed joy. They can be the moments of clarity, of revelation, when the writer is able to give us a peek into the soul of a character. Sex lends itself to Eucharist Moments because of the vulnerability it demands, because of the exposure it forces. Those sexy Eucharist Moments provide places where the light shines through and the reader understands, yearns, empathizes, and experiences the character from the inside out. Then the journey of the story truly becomes intimate.