And yet, we still pray the prayer...what does it mean, "give us this day our daily bread?" For us as Americans, I believe we still need that prayer, something called "daily bread." We go to the grocery store and buy bread in bags and keep it for many days without it spoiling, and then get irritated if we only have end pieces left when we want a sandwich. No human hand ever touched that bread that we ultimately eat. This is our legacy. Our food, our machines, our convenience.
The first step was to offer her some tea and stir the soup I had made for dinner. The next step was to follow the bread recipe, and have her coach me as I worked. As I expected, baking bread is more than recipe...it's a feeling. She offered me tips and tricks that I would have never known, and when it came to kneading, we used our hands. She was there to tell me if the dough was springy enough and ready for its first rise, she was there to show me what "punching down" really should look like, and taught me how to shape the dough into loaves...again, something that directions in a book just can't communicate as effectively as seeing it in person. I could not have guessed it, but baking bread is so much more than recipe, it's a relationship.
What my Ugandan friend could not see was that as Americans, we are starving. We do need daily bread, but not in the way that he meant. In our case, we have removed ourselves from so much that sustains us and keeps our hearts beating. It is not a physical hunger nearly as much as an emotional and spiritual hunger--the starvation for the fellowship of others whose hands can come and touch our bread and let us know when it's ready to rise, whose experienced eyes can tell us "wait a little longer" and whose fellowship and encouragement can carry us through a day. My dearest friends are those who spend time in my kitchen and I in theirs. We fellowship over the art of cooking and blessing our families with sustenance. This is the legacy I want to leave my children.
When my Ugandan friend left our home we blessed him, and we all wept. We had broken bread together and shared life deeply. We had found a brother. When my friend left today, she hugged me and prayed a prayer of blessing over our home which nearly made me cry. The bread was perfect. It was blessed by prayers and fellowship and human touch.
Give us this day our daily bread...