Peer Review by thisiswhoiam (United Kingdom)

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Food for the Soul

By: Ibex

    When I was six years old, I finally mustered up all my courage to ask my mother the question that had been haunting me for months, "Mom, why can't I eat the crackers at church?"
    It was a Sunday, and the hour hand was inching ever closer to twelve. It had been nearly five hours since breakfast, and I, a food-obsessed first grader, was absolutely starving. The pastor's voice droned on and on as every second seemed to slow to a slug's pace. As my stomach rumbled, I glanced at the clock and realized I probably wouldn't make it to the end of the morning worship service if I didn't get my hands on something, anything, to eat.
    Salvation wasn't far away though, for this was a Communion Sunday. At the front of the sanctuary, silver plates stood gleaming proudly, each filled with either broken saltines or small, plastic cups of grape juice. In a few minutes, the sermon would end, and the ushers would pass the plates around to each of the church members. If I could just have one cracker, my stomach would be satisfied, at least until I could make it home for lunch.
    The only obstacle was my mother. Week after week, she denied me the right to eat the crackers, despite the fact that she could hear my stomach growling unhappily beside her. Still I held out hope; perhaps this week she would decide to be a little more kind and would allow me to have the cracker I so desperately wanted.
    But she would not budge. When I leaned over and quietly asked if I could have the crackers this time, she shook her head and told me I wasn't old enough. And so I sat sullenly, watching my parents eat the crackers and drink the grape juice, heads bowed in reverent prayer. I didn't yet understand why I couldn't participate in this simple, seemingly unimportant ritual. And I wouldn't for many years.
    As a seventh grader, I began the membership class at church. In our denomination (the Presbyterian Church in America) Communion, or the Lord's Supper, is reserved for members, the people who have publicly confessed their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. To become a member, a person must take five vows; by taking these vows, we acknowledge our need for a Savior, affirm our faith in Jesus as that Savior, and promise to live in a way that is fitting for us as His followers.
   Two years ago, I took all five of those vows, and, although plagued by doubts at the time, I truly meant them. I took my first Communion, finally allowed to eat the crackers I had longed for since I was little, but, by then, I had begun to understand what Communion meant, and why my parents previously wouldn't let me participate in it: Communion, I realized, is not a mid-morning snack. It is not about the food, at least, not about the kind that goes in your stomach. No, Communion is so much deeper than that. It is about satisfying yourself spiritually, about being in a deep, meaningful relationship with God, about affirming your need for His saving grace again and again and thanking Him for it.
    This is why my parents would not let me participate in Communion as a first grader. It was not because they wanted to starve me; it was because they wanted me to first understand who God was and why I needed Him so much. I am grateful that my mother did not yield and let me eat the crackers as a first grader, since I do not think I would get the same meaning from Communion now. To an outsider, or a hungry first grader, it may just look like some crackers and grape juice. But to us, it is so much more than that.

Message to Readers

Hey! I would love some reviews on this!

Peer Review

I like that your word choice at the beginning is so innocent and childlike. You haven't over-complicated it or confused it by adding details which you only really learned later in your life. It makes for a simple yet clear understanding of what Church was like for you as a young child. I feel like I am seeing this experience through a six-year-olds eyes as opposed to a distant memory, which implies that this experience is important to you and is still vivid in your own mind.

This is an interesting one, because the crackers already symbolise something outside of this piece of writing. However, in this piece you have managed to give them extra meaning. They've become about your own growth and about your changing understanding and relationship with your God. The story might centre around the crackers, but you have managed to weave in so much more!

I feel like the second half of the piece kind of strays away from the crackers a little bit. Maybe you could describe what it is like to eat the crackers now you are old enough. What do they taste like? And how exactly does it make you feel when you are eating them? The content of this section is really meaningful but I think that could be strengthened a little by a physical experience to tie those thoughts to.

I actually really like the beginning and I'm not sure I would change anything. It certainly drew me in! The only other way I can think to begin is to go straight in with the question you ask, because that would bring the crackers to attention straight away, but I think it works well as it is.

I found this really interesting. This is not what I'd have thought of when I read the prompt but it works exceptionally well as a tool for talking about something which is clearly very important to you. I am 'the outsider' you mention in the second last sentence, but I feel like for a few minutes this essay has brought me into this world and given me a new layer of understanding. I hope you do well in the competition because this is a 'cracker' of a piece ;) (sorry I really couldn't help myself).

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