It was barely past midnight, January 4, 1982, when I was loaded into the ambulance from my room in the Norristown Hospital where my cramps had turned into premature labor in the sixth month of pregnancy. I was told not to push during the ride down the Skulkill Expressway into Philadelphia and to fight the contractions that were pushing the crown of the baby's head out of the birth canal. I gave birth in the sixth month of pregnancy at what was then known as The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. It has since changed it's name.
I was married to Dennis Kahhan, a Jew, whose family believed that the baby would be born into the faith of the mother. I was raised in the Baptist Church and had attended the First Baptist Church in Downingtown, PA as well as at the First Baptist Church at the Brandywine Battlefield in Chadds Ford, PA with my family, but had never been baptized in the faith. I was "saved" during a summer revival at the First Baptist Church in Downingtown when I was about nine, but that is another story. During the pregnancy, to the horror of my family, I attended classes in Judiasm in Phildelphia to convert. Right before I went into premature labor, as part of the conversion process, I had been asked to deny Jesus as the Christ and could not. My husband's family was angry at my "weakness."
My daughter, Ashley Kahhan, lived 5 days in the neo-natal intensive care ward, while I spent most of that time in the hospital chapel begging for her life, then offering my life in place of hers. Exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically, on the 5th day I finally surrendered and said, "Thy will be done." That hospital chapel was my Garden of Gethsemane and I had great peace as I left in time to hold my daughter in my arms while she passed. After the funeral, I lay in my dark bedroom and my father brought me a glass of wine and a few crackers to munch on, hoping to get some sort of nutrition in me so I could rest. As Dave Barry would say, "you're not going to believe this, BUT," they changed into the body and blood of Christ in my mouth--and I'm not even Catholic. In retrospect, I believe it was a sign and a blessing.
And that is the story of my First Communion. Since then, I believed that "Thy will be done" are the most important words in the Lord's prayer, which is total surrender of my will to God's will–especially when it is difficult and I don’t like the result. I'm not saying I accomplish that daily, I'm just saying I believe that maybe obedience (which squashes pride and ego) instead of atoning sacrifice (although it is the sacrifice of self) is more the point of the cross. If ego is the root of sin, and total obedience eradicates ego, then self-sacrifice in obedience does wipe out sin/ego. Therefore, if we metaphorically hang on the cross daily--crucifying our egos/self, then we ARE following in Christ's path.
It has been over 20 years since this experience and I am just getting around to committing this to paper. I'm sure most people would explain this experience away by saying I was hallucinating due to the emotionalism surrounding the situation compounded by exhaustion, and I would question it myself if it had been an isolated event of supernatural intervention in my life. However, in retrospect, I can say that it was truely a remarkable time of growth where the presence of God was very, very close.
I don't recall Jesus ever asking us to worship him. Just love him and follow him.