Monday, March 14, 2011

When God and I Do Lunch

Yesterday afternoon, I was fixing lunch for the family. No big deal, just four turkey sandwiches. I opened a new loaf of bread. A boring loaf, it looked just like a hundred others I could have picked off the grocery shelf. I don’t even really care for the taste of it. That’s why it was particularly surprising that as I took out the first two pieces I was suddenly struck by how beautiful bread is.

It was a peculiar moment. All these thoughts and half-thoughts, memories, stories, ideas, tastes, smells, and feelings welled up. Jesus breaking bread for His disciples. Hungry children begging for bread. Mothers teaching their daughters how to bake bread down the centuries and across many cultures. Robin Hood sitting on the side of the road eating bread and cheese before he continues to wherever he’s going. Wasn’t there something about yeast bread first being made in Egypt?

…Merry and Pippen eating way too much Lembas Bread. Samwise denying himself so that there will be enough bread to get Frodo back home. Farmers planning the whole year around their grain crop so they can feed their families bread. The French peasants of the revolution crying for bread before they cried for blood. David, on the run, eating the showbread from the temple with his men.

…Jesus eating bread with tax collectors and Pharisees. Jesus being the bread of life. My older sister’s many frustrating attempts at homemade corn bread. The wonderful smell of homemade bread while muddling my way through Algebra. Bread and butter at a friend’s house and being chided for not drinking all my milk. Naan, the middle-eastern bread my mother and I tried as we cried our way through a dish of spicy Indian food. My younger sister making biscuits for many grateful friends.

…Taking forever to bake a simple loaf of banana bread at the age of nine and eating large portions of the batter when it was only sugar, butter, and vanilla. Taking bread to neighbors at Christmas. The KFC honey biscuits in Hong Kong. (I dreamt of buying a bucket of them and eating them all.) My littlest brother carefully picking the bread items out of his meal to eat when he was barely old enough to get it to his mouth.

Hunger, satisfaction, frustration, adventure, pleasure, friendship, sacrifice, anticipation, laughter… these are the feelings that go with bread.

At the speed of light, I was back again; making a simple lunch for my family.

This frequently happens. A simple thing that I’ve happily taken for granted suddenly reminds me that it’s the simple things that matter. I feel as though I’ve suddenly seen God’s signature in two slices of bread and seen two slices of bread the way God intended them. They are full of wonder, full of life. In that moment I am truly grateful. Thankfulness wells up in me that God has always given me the privilege of taking bread for granted. I definitively decide that making turkey sandwiches is a Godly way to be spending my time. I finish lunch smiling over a new memory… the time God showed me bread.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I have this picture on my desktop right now. I took it myself so I know the actual events surrounding it. I hadn't seen it for a few months though, and running across it the other day it wrote a new story in my mind. It reminds me at the same time of distant shores and of coming home. The water and the sky are grey and troubled. The rain may be coming or going. Somehow, it still speaks peace to me. It's beautiful and hope clearly shines on the horizon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grace, Love & Fireflies

It was moving day. Actually, it was the last day of moving week, or moving month. At the age of six I wasn’t very good at knowing how long it had been, I was only old enough to know it had been long enough. Finally, we would be living at our new home.

As any moving day, it was busy and long. There were lots of family and friends helping. Lots of people asking, “Where does this go? Can you grab the other end of this? Be careful with that! Has anyone found the ___?”A six-year-old wasn’t much help, so I spent most of the day being kindly shuffled out of the way by one person or another. It was an eternally long day to me.

When things quieted down, the friends left, and all the boxes were stacked high at the new house, I became aware that my two older sisters got bay windows in their new rooms but I didn’t. I just hadn’t really thought about it until then, but those windows were beautiful and perfect for reading in. If I could have one I’d be just like a girl in a story with my own little cubby to sit in. But I didn’t have one.

My little sister and I had the big room up front, with two boring floor to ceiling windows that had window ledges too small to even fit a knick knack in. It was the last straw of a long, tiring day at the end of a long, tiring week and I burst into tears. My family was a bit flabbergasted. What were they to do? They were sorry, but they couldn’t just give me a bay window! They tried to explain to me how wonderful my own room was. It was much bigger, I got two windows instead of just one bay window, and it would have all my things in it. But I was inconsolable.

Then Mom talked to Dad and they came up with a plan. Dad took me for a walk, just him and me. I remember feeling a little sorry for my other sisters that they weren’t coming too, but still grateful it was just him and me. I was relieved to have Dad time after that embarrassing teary outburst, but I also wasn’t going to be talked out of the wonders of bay windows if that was his next plan.

Dad didn’t try to talk me out of bay windows. I don’t remember if we really talked at all. We walked a short way down our new street to the empty corner that was woods with a little foot path. It was dusk out and the day was cooling off; it was beautiful and calm. Just a little way into the woods, it happened. A flicker here, another a short way off. In moments we were surrounded by fireflies.

Fireflies are always beautiful. But that evening, with a long, disappointing day behind me, and my Dad’s hand holding mine, fireflies weren’t just beautiful. They were heart-healingly magical. We stood there and soaked it up together for a few moments.

“There’s one!”

“Did you see that one?”

“There’s two at once!”

Then Dad caught one to show me up close. It was so tiny in his hand, struggling to get away, but still lighting up. He carefully held it between his fingers so as not to hurt it and turned it upside down to show me. I was filled with wonder. It was just a bug! Yet, it was so much more than a bug; it was a beautiful mystery.

That night, I slept in my new room that didn’t have a bay window. I was still tired. It had still been a long and disappointing day. I never got a bay window, and I still want one. But somehow none of that mattered anymore. I had shared fireflies with Dad. A short half hour of shared love and beauty changed that whole long day into one of the most precious memories of my life.