This isn’t easy. Putting our lives on hold. Staying home, being alone, missing friends, waiting. Perhaps there are moments when it feels comfortable, but there are also moments when it feels contrary to what life should be. There is something very uneasy about the way we are living.
But there are also things that are quite beautiful in their simplicity. The planning of meals so we need only go grocery shopping once. Thinking about how we eat, how we shop. The planning of activities and days in ways that help preserve our sanity and our relationships. The conversations in passing with those we live with that we don’t usually have – at lunch, or in the middle of the afternoon. The walks through our neighbourhoods, taking different routes to notice all kinds of things we didn’t know were there; appreciating the smallest discovery of spring flowers or a chalk drawing on the sidewalk.
Our current focus on very basic things brought to mind this hymn. Written by Mary A. Lathbury, a poet who helped train Sunday School teachers at a Methodist summer camp in the 1870s. Her personal philosophy was that of training others to be a beacon of light in a dark world; of providing peace by sharing the message of one’s truth. In her case, this was founded on her Christian faith, and the words of this hymn reflect a familiar Biblical story.
Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!
Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, now unto me,
As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my all in all.
What struck me most about these words, was the idea that it is off of our ‘sacred page’ that we must live. It is more than a belief that we are to share, it is the real and concrete examples of expressing our beliefs that should be given with ease. In this story, hunger was there and bread was provided. A simple and easy solution. In this act, or miracle, of provision, peace was given, felt and found. The truth was about seeing the need and then fulfilling the requirements of that need.
It seems to me that this is where we find ourselves. It is easy to see needs right now. We have time to look. Some are very visible practical needs, some are hidden and private. Some are our own, some are our families’ or neighbours’, some are found beyond our immediate circles, near and far. Some we can provide for. Some we will need to accept help for, even when we are unaccustomed to being on the receiving end. The bread we break and share need not be fancy, nor does it have to last forever. We cannot solve this on our own. But when we both share and accept bread from another, we open ourselves up to a kind of peace that many of us have not experienced before. The peace of another’s truth and value.
We all come from different places and different perspectives. We don’t agree on everything, but I think we are beginning to realize that we are stronger together than we are individually. We have much to learn from each other – and from each other’s truths, beliefs and faiths. I find great comfort in knowing that my neighbour’s truth can provide me peace. I hope to offer the same in return, despite our differences. I am encouraged by this story of breaking bread together – the act of sharing, the act of providing. The knowledge that this easy act can break down the things that bind us and also give us peace, is remarkable. Ease is found in our generosity; our gifts and our gratitude.