Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Day I Tried To Open a Bottle of Wine With a Hammer

I needed communion. 

It'd been on my heart for weeks, but I'd never done it by myself. Communion. At home? Alone? 

That was reserved for padded church pews. For elderly hands passing wobbly silver trays of plastic grape-juice-filled cups. For tiny fingers plucking snippets of tasteless crackers from a doily-lined dish. For grave-expressions on suit-clad pastors and ominous undertones of the seriousness of partaking with sin lingering in your life. 

Never sat well with me. It'd been ten minutes since I'd prayed last. I'd probably sinned since then. Worry. Concern. Heaviness. How did anyone do this?

No, no. Not just sin in general. You know, just the living-in-sin stuff. The constant sin you choose to dwell in all the time. 

Huh? How is that different?

That was my typical growing up experience with communion. 

Until I attended a Captivating Retreat through John and Stasi Eldredge and Ransomed Heart Ministries last year in Colorado. And I marched with a hundred or more other women to a candlelit stage, with a low table surrounded by pillows, a table laden with goblets of red wine and large loafs of bread, all crumbly, broken, flaking reminders of the cross.

And then I got it. 


"the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level."

An exchange with Jesus. His body and blood for my sin. His atonement for my acceptance. His death for my life. 

Not a fair exchange. And that is forever sobering. 

But that's grace. 

I needed communion. And I needed it in my house, Alone. Not on a pew. Not with women on a stage. No band or instruments softly serenading the silence. Just me and God. I needed the symbolism and the memory and the experience. Needed a realignment. 

Needed to remember.

So I dug out a single Saltine cracker from the box in the pantry, and grabbed a bottle of red wine that had been used as decoration on my counter ever since returning from a trip two years ago, where I'd snagged it from an artsy gift shop. 

There was just one complication. 

No corkscrew. 

As I'd never been particularly adept at working those anyway, I didn't worry. I'd figure it out. I tried a steak knife, at first, the idea being I could gouge a hole through the cork enough to pour out just a taste of the liquid. 

That didn't work. Flakes of cork went everywhere. 

So I tried a flat edged skinny knife, trying to wedge the flat edge between the cork and the glass, and pry it open. 

The very edge of the glass lip broke, chipped, shattered across the counter and the floor. 

(I know. This is where I should have stopped, should have realized it wasn't going to happen, and moved on. But it'd become a personal mission. I had to open this bottle. I had to have this moment and experience)

I cleaned up the glass. Went back to the steak knife. 

Then decided to Google alternatives to corkscrews. 

There were quite a few. 

I tried them all. 

Flaking cork. Frustrated words. Toolbox supplies scattered across the entire counter.  

I twisted in a picture hanging screw with a hook on one end into the cork. Tried to pry it out with pliers. 

I pounded three nails into the cork, tried to pry them out with a hammer. 

More broken glass from the lip of the bottle. 

And finally Jesus said STOP. 

(I think He was laughing) 

And I realized, then, staring at my counter littered with screws, nails, cork fragments, and enough tools to build a dog house or at least a mailbox, that I was missing the forest for the trees. It wasn't about the wine, it was about my heart. And at the moment, my heart was far from ready to "share or exchange intimate thoughts and feelings" with the Lord.

I packed up my tools. Put the busted bottle back in its decorative place on the counter. Checked once more for glass dust. Lit a candle, sat at the table with my Bible, and had communion. With a stale Saltine and Raspberry Lemonade carbonated water from a bottle. 

Nothing could have been sweeter or richer or warmer.

So often I miss the point for the specifics, the message for the minutiae, the theme for the details. I stare so hard at the speck on the horizon that I can't even see the glorious sunset around me. 

I almost missed it. I almost missed a holy experience because I spent an hour trying to open a wine bottle. With a hammer.

What else have I missed, or almost missed?

What have you?

What else have I allowed to consume my thoughts, energy, time, emotion and creativity? What else have I struggled with needlessly, when the provision was already right there, waiting for me to acknowledge it? 

Maybe - maybe - search for ways to put away your toolbox today, your toolbox full of effort and willpower and determination and indignation and just open your fridge. Get the carbonated water. Accept the provision that's already there.

Jesus' provision. His blood. His sacrifice. 

He turned water into wine once already, you know. 


  1. Lol only you, Betsy. Could make such a beautiful and deep post that's hilarious at the same time. I needed this post yesterday! Today Im doing much better, thank you. Please get faster at reading my mind next time :)

  2. What a beautiful, hilarious, disruptive story. What speaks to me is how your deep desire to commune with God would not be thwarted as you tried countless ways to "MacGyver" the corkscrew off the bottle. I think Jesus most savors time with those who are the most hungry and thirsty for him. Check out Psalm 93 in the Message translation. It is a powerful invitation to intimacy with God that ends with "I'll give you a long drink of salvation." Sounds like you experienced that with Him. PS - might be a good investment to buy a wine bottle with a screw-off top. You know, just for next time.

  3. I love this. I pictured every beautiful moment and you make me smile. Sure missed seeing you this year, friend.