So earlier this week I was going to a familiar dark room, perhaps similar to the one the disciples inhabited when Jesus made his first and second appearances and they were there with the door locked in fear. In my familiar dark room I look around at my life and say, am I doing enough? I know that we are through Lent and should be putting to bed this ‘enough’ theme but it reappeared, unresolved for me on Monday.
Sometimes I feel so fragmented as I strive for integration of my roles parenting, loving a partner, hosting a pre-school coop, and pastoring this beautiful community of artists, intellectuals, activists, and folks looking to live with integrity and grace.
This week we will discuss the first five chapters of take this bread by sara miles. Like many of us, she is a woman looking to integrate her passions, striving for balance and relevance. The first part of the book traces her early life: growing up in Greenwich Village, going to a crazy Quaker experiential college in Mexico, and settling into work as a journalist and a cook to pay the bills. She also talks about the war years spent following the violence and political evolutions in the eighties of places like Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Philippines.
Sara is not someone who has it all figured out, which is probably why I like her. And yet she comes to realize that God can use all of her parts, even the disparate roles that don’t seem to go together. And that she does have a common thread to her story, even if she didn’t recognize it at the time. She is, and always has been, a feeder of people. And she realizes that in all of her travels; it has been food that connected her to people. We all eat, we all get hungry, and time and time again she has found people who share with her what they have.
She explains: ” The impulse to share food is basic and ancient, and it’s no wonder the old stories teach that what you give to a stranger, you give to God. When I first read about the Prophet Elijah – who was fed in the desert by ravens and in the village of Zarephath by a starving widow – I suddenly got a picture of that story, repeated over and over, tumbling down through thousands of years, repeating at every turn: That’s like the time we found fruit in the forest. That’s like the woman who made me tea in the town. The fact is, people feed one another constantly from their own bodies, their own plates, their own inadequate stores of insufficient food. Food is what people have in common, and it is, precisely, common (49).”
I love this description of the same story spilling down through time. How do each of us participate in that unfolding story of feeding and being fed?
Now we can talk about literal food, and I think we should because it is a beautiful and important daily practice. But we should also be open to discussing food as metaphor, because language about hunger can express other visceral needs. As a wise bishop tells Sara, “There’s a hunger beyond food that’s expressed in food, and that’s why feeding is always a kind of miracle(23).”
What lines can be drawn between the disparate dots of one life when it seems that we just really don’t cohere? And what and who feeds us as we figure the rest of it out?
For me it is hanging with my fam, tasty green smoothies, and time spent reading on my porch. What is feeding you? I know for Paul and others it is music, both creating and consuming it. I also think of Genny and her long-distance running out on Katy trail, Janie growing her radish tops and Ross hanging out with his boys. Some of you I am just getting to know what feeds you, and I’m interested to hear more of your stories. For there is a collective wisdom in all of our stories of where and how we are fed which function like a map in the wilderness. Which is why it is good to tell these stories and listen carefully to one another. I’m full of quotes this week. In my Monday slump Richie shared this one with me from a career coach he worked with in Boston: “Don’t try to figure out what the world needs. Figure out what makes you come fully alive. Because what the world needs are people who have come fully alive.”
Sara Miles is on that journey toward ALIVENESS. And it turns out it is the same journey we all share, and thankfully one that is full of places to share some fish over a campfire along the way. I invite you to join us tonight for Asian fare at the Semrad’s 108 S. Rosemont. Drinks and desserts always welcome. We will also have copies of take this bread available to buy.
Peace, Courtney PS if you didn’t see the Eastertide prayer flags raised on Sunday be sure to come to worship in the next few weeks as we celebrate that our Good Friday prayers of longing and desire have been transformed into symbols of hope and beauty.
LOVING THE WORLD BACK TO LIFE
On Sunday we discussed the compelling video (set to accordian music!) of the St. Gregory food pantry Sara Miles organizes in Take this Bread. Enjoy!