Our Daily Bread
Scripture: Matthew 6:11
Grocery shopping is a bit of an event these days. At this moment, I no longer casually swing by the store to grab a pound of coffee or a bag of apples on my way home. Shopping requires preparation and waiting and determining how serious the need to restock the food in our house is. It is a matter of keeping us nourished, which is no light task.
Nourishment is a matter of vitamins and nutrients, of course. We need protein and fat and vitamins and minerals and carbohydrates. And nourishment is a matter of more than just the science behind how digestive processes work, of what we need on a cellular level to keep existing.
Existence is not nourishment, it’s survival.
Nourishment is a matter of soul and desire and nutrients. It’s the smell of a meal and the people around the table with you and the gratitude and pleasure that fills your body from the toes up while you eat. It’s the stick-to-your-ribs feeling of not only feeling satiated but enjoying the food that fills you.
Most days, I keep my body functionally fed without allowing time and space for nourishment.
I toss nuts and dried fruit down my throat while driving.
I absent-mindedly munch on salad and cheese while working through lunch.
“Give us this day our daily bread,” is how Jesus taught the disciples to pray.
Perhaps the type of fasting to practice these days is to give up the illusion that our daily bread is somehow wrought by our hands alone, and can thus be haphazardly consumed or forgotten or thrown away when it spoils. Nourishment is a sacred task, and it takes all hands on deck.
In praying for daily bread we bless the ground that sheltered the seeds, and repent of the ways we have harmed the earth making it less suitable for food to grow. We pray for those who planted and harvested the produce, likely for a less-than-livable wage and in less-than-safe working conditions. We offer thanks for those who drove trucks for long hours and separated from their loved ones. We pray rest for those with sore backs from moving boxes of produce and flats of our daily bread all day. We pray for health and well-being for grocery store clerks with tired feet and tension headaches.
“Give us this day our daily bread” should also give us eyes to see that daily bread is not ours alone, it inescapably connects us to one another.
In these times, what if we took time to recount the stories of the food on our tables. Who wrote the recipe? From which region and people does this dish come from? What changes have been made along the way? Who taught you to heat the oil in the skillet before pouring the cornbread batter in? When did you learn to use a knife without fear of slicing your fingers along with your produce?
Food not just an assemblage of nutrients to keep our bodies going.
It is a collection of stories, the lives of people who helped it go from seed to salad.
It connects us to our history, to the traditions that formed us, and to one another, even when we cannot physically gather around the same table.