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Santa Cena


My mom and I don’t have much in common. She’s fire, and I’m water. She’s bold and brave and well, I’m not. This disconnect was especially difficult to deal with when I was a child. I would watch her from afar, tiny gears turning in my young mind trying to figure out what was on her mind. I learned a lot from just watching her. When she was upset she would purse her lips in a pout, and it would stay that way until she would calm down.

There was no doubt that my mother loved me. She showed me every single day in every warm bowl of food and every too-tight embrace. But, no matter what I did, there was always something that made us different. My sister, on the other hand, was her mirror image. Pursed lips and all. Our fights would often end in tears, on my part of course. She could cut through skin with just her tongue and it’s been that way since she was born.

There was one thing that everyone had in common though: Church. Every Sabbath we would wake up to Sandi Patty, Jesus Adrian Romero, or some variation of the two. If my mom was feeling rebellious that day, as she often did, it would be Avispas by Juan Luis Guerra.

My mom was a diaconisa. She would often be on rotation to collect the offering on Sabbath mornings. I always knew when it was her turn because I would smell the steam and freshness of the iron and starch she would use to make her blouse crisp and presentable all the way in my room. One of her biggest responsibilities was helping to make the pan de santa cena, or communion bread. She had a habit of kicking all of us out of the kitchen to complete the task. Sacred time and sacred space, she would say.

When I was about 11 years old, I poked my head in the doorway of the kitchen and I saw the familiar special bowl and special olive oil perched on the counter of the sparkling clean kitchen. When she saw me she quietly called me over.

“¿Quieres ayudarme?”

It was like heaven and earth had touched for a brief moment, my eyes went wide. Of course I wanted to help. I washed my hands and she walked me through one of the most solemn and reverent moments of my life. As our hands moved it’s as if our souls were connecting in a way they never had before. We prayed before each step, setting our intentions for this physical manifestation of sacrifice. We measured with our hearts and it was truly beautiful.

When I think of communion, I always remember this moment with my mother and I’m reminded of what this ceremony is about. Two people, in common union, setting aside all differences for something far greater than either of them.

It took me years to even begin to understand the role my mother played in my life. She is my rock and my greatest supporter. She goes without just so I can live in abundance. A love that can only be described as divine. Although we may not have much in common, I appreciate the moments that our faith can bring us together.


Katherine Gonzalez is a 2nd year graduate student at La Sierra University. She is pursuing her M.A. in English. During her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


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