Journey to the Sacred
Copyright 2003 by Dr. Jane Simington
Welcome to a free excerpt from Journey to the Sacred: Mending a Fractured Soul. You can order this book on this web site at www.takingflightinternational.com or by calling us toll free at 1-866-473-6732.
Chapter 16: Our Daily Bread
When thou dost ask me a blessing,
I’ll kneel down and ask thee forgiveness.
William Shakespeare- King Lear
Give us this day our daily bread had, for me, always been a prayer of both requesting and of gratitude. Among my fondest memories of childhood are my memories of smell. Primary of these are the aromas that wafted from mother’s home made bread. Enshrined deep within the recesses of my brain are the sights and sounds that encompass those delectable whiffs. Growing up in a large farming family, we had limited material wealth, but of bread we were assured. Bread filled the Roger’s Golden Syrup pails that mother secured into the little red wagon to insure their safe delivery, by my brothers and me, to our father and his harvesting crews. Bread, which filled those same Roger’s Golden Syrup pails, fed our hungry bellies during school days. And warm newly baked bread greeted us as we arrived home on frigid prairie winter afternoons. Bread was central to our survival, and it was central to our celebration. While bread graced every meal, and the numerous snack times between, special breads announced festivity. Sweet buns awaited the Christmas Eve or the Easter Vigil mass. Their appearance indicated the time of fasting and abstinence had ended.
Even though, bread was abundant, it was sacred. Never could we waste. Dried crusts were turned into bread pudding for ordinary days, and chicken or turkey dressing for feast days. Uneaten scraps fed the dog and many cats, or were sogged and softened in milk for baby ducks and goslings. We recognized that our daily bread was a gracious gift. We partook of it freely, yet we understood bread graced our celebration tables and quieted our gurgling tummies only because of the love and the toil of each member in our family, and because of the graciousness of our God.
Bread is made of flour. Flour is made of grain. Our livelihood depended on the grain crops. We valued the soil, the rain, and the sun. These, in the right mixtures were necessary for a bountiful harvest. We honored the labor of planting and of harvesting, and milling. We appreciated the kneading and the shaping of large batches of dough. As a family, in the work of producing our daily bread, while some tasks were done by machine, others were too precious. These were mastered by love and human skill.
Jesus must have had similar reflections when he prayed, Give us this day our daily bread. He must have thought, as well, that good bread also needs salt, and it needs leaven. Salt is a preservative. The prayer for daily bread asks, as well, that we be preserved, that we be kept safe and protected. Jesus loved allegory. He would have contemplated on the leaven, for leaven causes the dough to rise. He would have us ask that like the effect of leaven on the dough, we too be given what we need to rise to our full-blown potential. Jesus would have recalled the little known passage in The Book of Numbers 1 which speaks of the way in which the Israelites were to carry forth the Ark of the Covenant. While oxen and carts could be used to carry the tent and most of the sacred trappings, the Holy of Holies was to be carried on the backs of men.
Jesus would have known of the labor required to make our daily bread. He reminded us that when we ask we receive, but planting seeds for the future also requires effort on our part. Fertility in life is brought to us through our active efforts. Jesus knew when we make the effort, and when we ask with gratitude, we receive in abundance.
Jesus would have known of the gratitude in the hearts and on the lips of those who till and plant and mill and bake. He would have known of their respect for the soil, and the sun and the rain. In our farming home, each meal began with a blessing. Bless us Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive. And each meal ended with thanks-giving. We give you thanks Almighty God for all the benefits we have received.
From my parents I learned gratitude. From them I learned mindfulness. As a child I was taught to pause in my daily work to recall the many blessings I had received.Â While there were times when I neglected this assignment, its value has come home to reside.
Each noon, we were drawn from the midst of our labors to be mindful of the abundance in our lives. As the bell in the church tower chimed, we paused to recite the Angelus. Of all the memorabilia in my mother’s home, connecting me to the roots I treasure, I valued most the prints of the Angelus and the Gleaners.
While during my dark nights, I could find little to be grateful for, the turning point tiptoed upon the heels of my intentional practice of relearning mindful gratitude. Whispering thank-you, as the spring sun streamed across my kitchen table was rewarded with warm golden glows of courage.
Pleading for help out of my desperate situation, with the faith that somehow this could happen, and trusting just enough to hope for what I myself could not accomplish, was the spark of gratitude which thrust me over the cragged peak of the mountain of grief. The arduous and treacherous climb through the ragging storm had all but ended as gratitude bore me to the summit.
The world was different at the peak. The sun really did rise. It did shine, even on those enveloped in cloud. While the trek down was not without trial, it was less formidable for the travel was by day, and I could clearly recognize the guidance of those providing direction.
Theologians often speak of grace and break the concept into grace given and grace received. They would probably speak of my experience in terms of grace. Yet, I personally, have never found a fitting definition for grace. After considerable study and reflection, I am unable to separate grace from the energy of the Creator. To me, grace given means our soul’s innate awareness of our connection to the Creator, and because of this knowing we long to rejoin in total Oneness that from which we are formed and to which we belong.
I believe that grace received is our own volition to move in the direction of seeking this Oneness. We have free will. We must make the first step, but with even a hint of movement on our part comes an infusion of the Spirit, of the Energy (the Wind, the Breath) of the Creator. The further we advance in this movement, the more open we become to receiving more fully of the Creative Life Force and the greater our ability to give, to co-create, in turn.
Movement forward is choice. Choice must be the first step in healing. The treacherous rapids within the waters of grief from whatever the cause, be it from the loss of a loved one to death, separation or divorce, or from the loss of self, suffered following violence or abuse, can completely submerge us. While the current may carry us far adrift, at some point we must choose to sink or swim. We have no other choices. It is easiest to sink, for in descending into the ever increasing frigidity of the ever-deepening waters, pain becomes frozen. But buffered from pain we are buffed from living.
If we swim we must be prepared to thrash about out of control, doing all we can to keep our head above the ever-increasing turbulence. We must come to the point when, just prior to giving up, to drowning, we call for help. That instance seems only available at the moment we realize our desperation, at the moment we recognize how little control we really have. Yet somehow, and most incredibly, it is only in the total submission of our control into the hands of the Almighty that control returns to our life.
Attempting to control every aspect of our life, and often the lives of those around, forms a vise-grip squeeze upon the tip of the funnel which brings energy from the abundant universe into our being. Our chakras are like spinning funnels, guiding the energy from the universe down into our being. These vortices guide the energy flow of what we need into our life. All we must do is realize that we are not separate and apart from the universe, that we cannot maintain on our own, and that all in the universe is available to us when we connect, in gratefulness, to the Creative Presence. When we open ourselves in gratitude to receive the energies of love and light, we open ourselves to the tremendous abundance of the universe…[We Invite you to purchase the book to read the rest]