Bread

Give us today our daily food. What we need to survive. Way more than bread or money as Julio Diaz, the “victim who treated his mugger right,” realized. What the world needs now and always is love: someone to feed us, arms to hold us, kind words, companions (people who eat bread together).

We need people who become bread for each other: Bread for the City; Bread for the World. Henri Nouwen called it the Life of the Beloved— taken, blessed, broken and given.

This week I devoured an amazing story, set in Annapolis Maryland, of people growing, rising like yeast in dough, to provide bread for each other and others, especially children. Granted it’s fiction, but books like Solomon’s Puzzle by Loris Nebbia nourish our souls.  Together Jim and I are savoring In the Company of Others by Jan Karon, another feast of yeasty companionship.

No one person can be the conduit for all the spiritual bread a child or spouse or friend needs. But all who taste the bread of life each day can’t keep it to themselves. When that heavenly bread becomes the staple of our diets, we realize nothing else satisfies. We begin to understand how work can be food (John 4:32-34). We “devote” ourselves “to the breaking of bread and to prayer” eating “together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:42-47).

 

Awe

Two new angles on awe. The first is based on my dumbfounded reaction reading Mary Karr’s story. It helps me understand the reaction of Zechariah’s neighbors when his voice came back (Luke 1:63-66).  God astounds us not only through nature’s wonders and Jesus’ or the Holy Spirit’s self-revelation, but through ordinary people. An old new dad. A young alcoholic mom. A retired fisherman and his friends (Acts 2:43).

Second, I believe we can prime ourselves for being awed. How? It’s a gut reaction isn’t it? Heart-stopping, jaw-dropping amazement! Yes, but stone hearts never pause or skip a beat. Jaws under stiff upper lips don’t drop. Gut-wrenching anger, addiction and poverty numb the capacity for awe as does arrogance and self-aggrandizement. Awe is a childlike, healthy fear of the unknown, balanced with excitement and eager wonder. So, hang out with children. Go for a walk at a new time of day or in a place you haven’t walked before. Read a Psalm or gospel chapter and mull over a word that grabs you. Be still and know (Psalm 46:10). Learn to listen with your heart. Get to know someone like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mary Karr. Stand in awe!

Footnote: my devotional book, co-published with Pleasant Word, the print-on-demand division of WinePress, has been out almost two years. Time for some fresh mulling on each of the 26 words in preparation for a new edition with a new publisher.

Poems for Epiphany

Search Party

From ancient distant kingdoms
stargazing sages journeyed
in wonder of a promised king.

Did those pilgrims know the child
they found was ch’i and tao,
Life-light’s wisdom embodied?

Did they have any inkling
of morning stars singing with
this child at creation’s dawn?

From present dream or fact realms
wise people move together
toward the one bright Morning Star.

 

Winter Buds (Luke 2:25-38)

No brittle sticks these arms:
ev’ry branch curves out, yes
up! to end in a bud.

Each knobby black twig points
to the gray bud it holds
aloft like Simeon

holding the swaddled bundle
up for blessing.

Curled fetal, motionless
under covers, unheard
like a dogwood bud I

wait sleep-swathed, skeleton
hidden, soul open to
holy bud-blessing light

like Anna in the temple
fasting, praying.

 

 

Renovare

Renovare is an international church renewal mission. I’m a card-carrying member since I signed the covenant years ago: “In utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as my everliving Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend, I will seek continual renewal through spiritual exercises, spiritual gifts and acts of service.”

Renovare works best in Spiritual Formation Groups of less than seven people. My goal for 2010 was to find or start such a group. I tried, probably too hard, didn’t rely totally on Jesus, and failed. But it was a fantastic year of spiritual growth spurred on by wonderful books and dear friends old and new.

Ten stand-out books out of  46 completed  this year.

 

 

And ten stand-out companions on the journey this year (three for which—Wendy Bilen, Patience Robbins and Barbara Steen—I have no photo).