Moving from Believers to Practitioners and a Thought on Bread

img_0912Some of my holiest moments have been spent around kitchen tables, with bottle of wine, avocado sandwiches and homemade soup. There is a certain sacredness to food- that we often miss if we’re not looking for it- but its in the growing, cultivating, preparing, eating, enjoying, and maybe even in the cleaning up. Last night at FRWY I shared a little bit about how Jesus and the spirit and image of God is present in the very smallest things…that we can see God in the way a mother makes a school lunch for her children for 10 years, or listens to endless stories, wipes away tears and cleans the bathroom. As I was frantically getting my thoughts together on Sunday afternoon, in a peculiar brain fog caused by lack of sleep, a retreat, and a time change, I knew that I had written about the idea of bread and the sacred before. But I couldn’t find it anywhere- isn’t that the worst? I knew it was somewhere on my old blog (now that I’ve found it I can use wordpress’ handy categories to tag it!) But of course today I find it.

Too bad I couldn’t have found this last night at church, when I needed it- but alas, here it is.

“Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams”
– Fr. Zossima, in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov

I’m starting to see that being a believer in love, hope, peace -is so different and so much easier than being a practitioner of these things. Like the quotation above says, love in action is harsh and dreadful (at times). I got my first real sense of this in Quito- and have since talked a lot about how my understanding of what love is was expanded. Because sometimes love is dirty little fingers touching your face, sweat, head lice, and playing the same game over and over again. Love can mean smelling garbage and often means being really uncomfortable- physically and emotionally. I haven’t loved like that very much since I’ve been back – and there is something wrong with that. I don’t want to love in dreams anymore.

I’m reading this incredible book by Dorothy Day called A Radical Love- besides being an incredibly inspiring person, Day’s perspective and writings are poignant and unique.

Day talks about St. Teresa and how she said that Christ is disguised as bread (Matt 6:11, John 6:48, 51) so that we will not be fearful in approaching him. Day goes on to say that as humans we are not “capable of exalted emotion, save rarely.” She talks about how we are not always capable of forcing ourselves and/or our emotions to feel love, awe, gratitude, etc. She makes the point that Christ comes to us in the form of bread because it is a daily way that we can readily approach Him- in bread, Christ is so simple. Dorothy Day says that even a child can eat “the Sacred Food with love and gratitude.”

I feel a sense of relief in reading about how we are not always capable of exalted emotion- I know that I most certainly am not. Sometimes- a lot of the time, I don’t really feel like loving at all. And, a lot of the time awe and wonder is replaced with waiting, worrying and the burden of ‘doing’. I am encouraged by the concept of daily bread. Bread is not exciting all the time (although there is this bread I LOVE at Wholefoods called “Seeduction”- lame name, but soo good), eating never ends- we’ll have to keep doing it for the rest of our lives, it doesn’t take a certain income or IQ to need to eat or to enjoy food.
I feel like I am not doing justice to this idea, but like bread (who really understands yeast anyway- it’s alive?!), it’s intriguing and comforting.

I wrote this in June 2007- but I am still equally mystified. Jesus, and the divine come to us in something so basic, so mundane, so universal- as bread. Nothing spectacular, but something satisfying. Nothing fancy, but filling. The idea that we don’t always need to feel loving, holy, forgiving, in touch with God- that is so comforting to me.

On Saturday night at the retreat we did communion and there was a point where the communion table (piano bench) got a little bit crowed- everyone was kneeling down and passing the bread and juice, and while it was silent, there was the typical camp/family meal chaos of passing the food and drink. It was visible reminder to me that the holy and the everyday are not mutual exclusive, in fact, I think in many cases they are indivisible.

When we share bread we absolutely breakdown barriers- eating the most simple food on earth reminds us that we all have similar needs- to be fed, literally and figuratively- and it also reminds us that we belong to each other..especially when we use our hands to pass it around the table.

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