Breaking B(re)ad


Dear Cyberspace,

Recently, I have been increasingly aware of your coldness. I mean, you often talk as if you’ve got my best interests at heart, you’re compliant and eager to recommend whimsies, stories and folk you think I will like. You’re reliable, you fill the time when I am waiting for the bus, and when it comes to online shopping, no one- however caffeinated- enables like you do. But I lose my sense of touch when I am around you- I point and click, but I don’t ever feel through my fingertips. And your disregard for the rest of my bodily identity is disconcerting, given your ongoing concern to dress it up and thin it down. Maybe you just want to open tab after tab after tab in my mind until my me-ness is crowded out. I think my fingerprints are being worn down by your exclusive interest in them. Perhaps your idea of eternal is pixellation. Perhaps that is what lies on the four-thousandth page of a Google search…

So this Maundy Thursday, this day of bread and wine, I thought I would hold something true and malleable, something with tension and suppleness-  a refreshing break from the black/ white, like/ dislike of the Internet. Put more simply, I made bread.

Luke 22:19: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Matthew 13:33: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough”.

I loved feeling the heat rising from the yeast- that odd-smelling creature unsuitable- in the form of leavened bread- to bring as a sacrifice to the Temple, but that Jesus audaciously puts in the hand of a woman to paint a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. Little microscopic creation-redeemers, themselves now redeemed, fire up as they get to work. Silently, and from within, the whole mixture changes, emboldens.

Stirred, cradled, smoothed and slit, I sat back and smelled as it baked. Funny how the smell of bread seems reminiscent of home when I, for one, wasn’t a toddler weaned on our own wholemeal. Unless… unless, it isn’t a home past that the smell is beckoning us towards…

Then comes the breaking. Follow the word ‘companionship’ back to its Latin roots, and we find it means ‘with-bread-ship’. As we break bread and eat together, we break down the walls that divide us. We get to know each other in the full roundedness of their humanity which Facebook simply cannot compute. (An etymological rebuke to that once-upon-a-time when I cut out carbs, trust and friendship in one fell swoop). How glorious if Communion could be the passing round of warm, fresh bread, tearing it together and saying “taste and see that the Lord is God” with joyful relish. ”Here, the body of Christ for you, beloved one, because He couldn’t bear to let you go”. To further the semantic excitement, ‘companion’ is defined in the OED as “a person or animal with whom one spends a lot of time or with whom one travels”. Our eating together, then, is part and parcel of our journeying together. We share a table, and a path, and a guide, and a goal.

So I rip into my own loaf and recall names of my brothers and sisters- ones that are close, and ones far away, ones that I have let down, and ones with whom I differ, and ones who know me as inside out as it gets. And I remember that while we aren’t eating this loaf together, we are one body because we all share in one bread. A bread even more delicious than my home baking.

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