Long before the sun rose this morning, while the supermoon still loomed large in the night sky, I followed my daily routine in preparation for an early morning bread baking shift. I flipped on my lamp, pulled my sheets and comforter orderly into place, and scrolled briefly through my Facebook newsfeed. Reminders of the ongoing tragedies from West Africa to Iraq were met with a new disaster, the tragic killing of a young boy in one of my own hometowns. My addiction to social media prevents me from escaping these devastations, simultaneously encouraging me to kneel before the Lord, crying for mercy while also causing me to forget the budding signs of life I experience every day.
This past Saturday, I visited the Union Square Farmers Market, a neighborhood market representing a wide range of ages and life stages, income levels and ethnicities. The market accommodates young children with activity booths where excited youth earn tokens to spend on fruits and vegetables. It practices a neighborhood-funded SNAP match exchange, allowing families to double the worth of their SNAP credits. Musicians take turns on the market stage, and artists proudly display their wares.
Wandering the stalls of my favorite farms, I filled my bag with vibrant cousa squashes and variegated heirloom tomatoes. After purchasing a pint of plump red raspberries, I sat with my friend in the middle of the market and quietly watched the neighbors shop. Reminders of life filled the scene: from inquisitive youngsters learning about food, to bundles of produce that just weeks prior had been mere seed in the ground.
Later that afternoon, I spent time in my own kitchen preparing a loaf of challah to be used as bread for the following day’s communion. I methodically kneaded yeast into the dough, preparing it to eat the sugars in order to flavor and grow the dough. Even in this simple mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, and yeast I saw a picture of abundant life.
What beautiful imagery Christ shares with us in His Eucharistic meal: bread which reminds us that food is miraculously alive, bread which reminds us that food sustains our own lives, Bread which reminds us that all are welcomed to this table of Life, Bread which reminds us that in Christ’s death we find Life.
As I carry on my day, mixing pitas and shaping brioches, munching tomatoes and cooking squashes, I seek to remember that all around me life abounds. In the wake of overwhelming death and destruction, I turn to the Bread that reminds me of life.
The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven.