|[Salvador Dali, Basket of Bread, 1926]|
● a thick slice of heavy brown bread, warm from the oven
● two loaves of challah at the beginning of Shabbat dinner
● scones with clotted cream and jam
--or, on the other hand,
● a dry crust
● day-old bread
● Wonder Bread
I'm guessing you quickly moved beyond taste and smell to highly personal associations--places, people, feelings, stories evoked by thinking about bread. Symbols invite you to do that.
Consider also some of the many Bible stories that feature bread:
● Passover with its unleavened bread
● The manna that fed the Israelites in the wilderness
● The miracle of the loaves and fishes
● The Last Supper (a Passover meal) with its shared loaf
--or some scriptural statements about bread:
● "If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat" (Proverbs 25:21)
● "Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread?" (Isaiah 55:2)
● "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11)
● "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life'" (John 6:35)
Ask yourself, what does the bread mean? You'll likely come up with multiple meanings right away. That's how symbols work.
Now think about bread, any kind of bread you choose--
● how its ingredients are grown, harvested, and processed, and by whom
● how it's baked, and by whom
● how it is served and eaten, and by whom
Can you see how bread might enrich your view of life, or Jesus, or God's providence, or ... ? Again, you're seeing symbols at work--or at play.
I love the prayer in the Roman Catholic liturgy that echoes the Hebrew blessing over bread:
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation,
for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you:
fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
it will become for us the bread of life.
* * *
This is part of a series of short posts especially for people who attend St Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, IL, where I'm leading conversations about food on September 22, September 29, and October 6. I'll post about food every weekday between September 16 and October 4.