Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Everyday Life: Bread
You can always tell it is bread day around here. People tend to walk around sniffing the air with smiles on their faces. Fresh bread smells permeate the house and there are glimpses of loaves cooling in the bakery.
We bake all our own bread. At one point we were making at least 50 loaves a week. I know the number hasn’t gone down and may be going up. There is always white and wheat and sometimes a special herb bread or other exotic new types.
There is something deeply appropriate and right about a monastery baking bread. As a community we are centered on bread. Our entire way of life is about celebrating the bread of life, Jesus who dwells in our midst. We share the daily bread of the Eucharist and we attempt in our fumbling ways to become bread for one another. When we share our community life with so many people who come as retreatants, guests, volunteers and visitors, we share our physical bread in the meals we offer and we offer to all the bread of our lives and our presence.
Living monastic life is a lot like baking bread. It is harder than it looks, it takes time, there are always holes and mistakes and the bread has to be carefully tended so as not to get stale and become useless. A good community is also like good bread. It is simple, not fancy, ordinary, solid and wholesome. Both bread and community are things that are usually taken for granted but are fundamental to human life.
So as the new loaves come out of the oven they hold so much. In bread our bodies are fed. Bread is the life we know in Christ. In broken bread is our life which we give for others. Another bread day comes and goes but in it we are reminded of how extraordinary and how holy is the ordinary.