By Rev. Elizabeth Rechter, Executive Director
The American Red Cross does an extraordinary work through the regular and widespread blood drives it conducts. Recently, a church where I was worshiping had a drive on a Sunday, making it convenient for people to give this gift. I liked the analogy of giving blood as part of how I was worshiping that day.
Giving blood is central to both Jewish and Christian theology. In Christian worship at the heart of its liturgy is the giving of Jesus’ life (blood). The wine offered at the community meal is symbolic of Jesus’ blood given in his example of standing for all life and never wavering in the face of injustice, never returning violence for violence, loving all creation all the time in all things. Jesus’ life made visible the truth that God cannot not be God. Jesus’ story tells the Jewish story that the most sacred of all elements is blood, and that there is no greater sacrifice than to protect life with the life we have been given.
I am not good around blood … I think the word is queasy. A simple cut has me reeling. Needless to say, going to a blood drive challenges me. I know for many, giving away part of your body is a big deal. And yet we do it. I am fascinated when told giving blood is good for me. Taking a pint of blood from my system is a kind of physical fitness for my blood. Any iron build up that can thicken blood is balanced. The body’s work of replenishing is healthy for the body. Still, yikes, it isn’t easy. But we do it because,
it can save the lives of others.
We are living in extraordinary times. Maybe the most anxious part of these times is not knowing how to participate in a way that can make a difference. I believe we want to give our blood but are challenged by how. Where can I give? What will help? How will I know it is helping?
I wished I could have followed my O Positive pint of blood to where it was going. I wanted to meet the one who would be receiving it. Are they alright? But that’s not part of the deal. I give, and I trust the American Red Cross to do its good work.
So where will we give our blood? Who do we trust to use our donations? And how do I get it to them, my donation of time, money, marching, letters, prayer? It is not easy to give blood, but it can save lives, including our own.
As a spiritual director, being a spiritual companion may not seem like blood given. It is a privilege. But it is keeping the blood supply healthy so it may be given. More than ever we need spiritual companionship in order that our souls stay healthy and securely tethered to the heart of God, the source of all blood.
Blessings for the Journey,