If you happened to be in church for a Christmas Eve or Christmas morning Service of Lessons and Carols at any given church in any given place, you may have heard a version of Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food, until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken. For dust you are, and to dust you will return.”
I’m using this text for a workshop on Faith and Food in about a month. I also read it on Christmas morning at an emotional closing service for one of the rural congregations I lead… or led. So when I read the King James Version of the quotation in this article in the December Smithsonian (note: in the magazine, the title of the article is, “An Amber Wave”), I am certain that I had an exclamation point drawn above my head.
“… in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.”
Of course. Bread.
If you Google ‘daily bread,’ the top of the search heap has nothing to do with food. Well. I suppose if you are a person who considers thoughts, which cannot be eaten, to be Spiritual Food, then maybe. Daily Bread, as in, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ a line from “The Lord’s Prayer,” a common prayer in liturgies of Holy Communion, has become separated from any actual practice. Rather than talking about literal daily bread, and a literal meal, we refer to ‘spiritual thoughts’ as our Daily Bread, symbolizing the spiritual nourishment God gives us each day, and a few crumbs of bread a sip of grape juice symbolize … an actual meal.
But Actual Food, can both be eaten and has deep spiritual meaning. And if you look at the Very Beginning, you’ll find that one of the creation stories says that in fact, human survival is hard work.
Childbirth – hard but necessary work.
Farming – hard, but necessary work.
Many people think that the age of Supermarkets and Wonderbread are both super and wonderful. But in the meantime, we’ve managed to separate the spiritual aspects from the actual spiritual practice. What I mean is this: Instead of having an actual meal with actual people who actually don’t ‘fit in our circles of comfort,’ we take the spiritual aspect out of the actual practice and just … think … about it. Instead of putting forth toil out of which we receive ‘our daily bread,’ humbly thanking God, knowing that despite our best efforts, we still do not control the universe, we take the spiritual aspect out of the actual practice and just … think … about it.
In the New Year, I resolve to write a weekly post regarding bread. And so I don’t get caught up in just … thinking … about it, I want to let you know that I am also resolving to start baking my own bread. I guess, weekly. I don’t do it much now because, well. . . it’s hard and time consuming, and I don’t have to: Heidleberg supplies us with relatively local loaves baked with NYS flour. I suppose that’s why most people in our culture don’t do it more. But our eventual goal is to grow our own grains and mill them ourselves (although with this machine, I’m sure to have no trouble getting Jack to do it!)
So since gardencommunion is all about healing the relationship we have with our food, about retrieving the ACTUAL and getting it back together with the spiritual, I thought a good place to start would be with our Daily (or Weekly) Bread. As always, your thoughts are greatly encouraged!