One Bread: August 2006

Sometimes, while sitting at table, I dunk a crust of bread into my glass of wine and chew it slowly, rejoicing in the simple pleasures of bread and wine, in the intimacy of family and friends round the table; marveling that our Lord would choose to meet us through such simple, homely means.

Sometimes, when moving from bread to wine in the Eucharist feast, a sweep of sadness crosses my heart. Whose sadness is this, Lord? Yours? Mine? Theirs? Broken fellowship, absent loved ones, hearts divided....what?

Once, in a large church, I heard a two-year old cry out at communion, "But I want it." It took all my self control not to stand up and bellow, "Give it to her!"

People used to question me about my young children receiving communion. They said I should wait until the children were old enough to understand it. My stock response was, "Do you understand it?" Shut them right up, yes it did.

The Living Bread by Thomas Merton is a marvelous series of reflections on this sacrament; a veritable feast. The book is $15 new, and Mariposa put first dibbs on the used copy before I even finished it. This is what happens if you come in and schmooze about books. We gather around the table with tea and cookies, surrounded by saints trussed up in print, supported by saints near and far (that's you!), a community so loose knit it is full of holes. Holy.

"The glory of God is God Himself, and our unity in the charity of Christ is the most perfect external manifestation of the hidden glory of God." --Thomas Merton in The Living Bread

Anthony Bloom's Beginning to Pray is a wonderful little book that I read years ago. I recently bought a copy to fill an order with Paulist Press, and a few days later a used one came in. I couldn't resist taking it home to read again. Amazing how much a book can change in 20 years! A Russian Orthodox Archbishop, Anthony Bloom kneads life and prayer together into a nourishing meal. I loved the bit in "Knocking at the Door" on choosing a prayer "worthy of you and worthy of God." Later he looks deeply at the importance of names in "Addressing God" and I read the chapter on "Managing Time" twice. The new copy is $7.95. I'm sending the used one to Tisa, so harass her if you want it.

"The mistake we often make in our inner life is to imagine that if we hurry, we will be in our future sooner." Anthony Bloom in Beginning to Pray

I have not yet figured out how to watch movies with my eyes closed, so after watching "Elizabeth" I had scenes of Protestants being burned and Romans being tortured seared into my soul. This sort of thing makes unbelievers think "religion" is the source of all evil--although it only takes half a brain to see that atheists are right up there with the worst of them in the torture, murder and maim department.

Queen Elizabeth formed the Church of England hoping to unify a country torn to pieces in the reformation. That she reigned for 40 years is some mark of her success. Interestingly many of the religious issues of the time, like the vernacular Bible and Service, and the ministry of the people, are now in place across the board. So often "religious" issues are less about religion and more about power, prestige and property.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." -Jimi Hendrix

The introduction to Awakened from Within, interviews Brother Rogers about his efforts toward reconciliation between Christian denominations--Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. He says that individuals can reconcile the differences interiorly, while we wait for the lumbering institutions to catch up. Brother Rogers brought together brothers from a variety of traditions to Taize in France. This "parable of community" reverberated in spirit and song throughout the world. Awakened from Within includes meditations on the Christian life and the rule of life for the Taize community. His notion of the pastoral calling of all Christians reminded me of some of the shepherd teachings that came forth at Family Camp last summer. $6

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

Pat dropped off Intimacy and Mission by Luther Smith with a note that she found this book fascinating. I am only 30 pages into it and am entranced. Subtitled "Intentional Community as a Crucible for Radical Discipleship" the book studies five intentional communities committed to social justice, promising to show how the experience of these communities can help local congregations. The first chapter ranges from the Puritans, to liberation theology in South America, to the plethora of communities that arose in the American optimism of the 19th century:

"We are a little wild here with numberless projects of social reform. Not a reading man but has a draft of a new community in his waistcoat pocket." --Ralph Waldo Emerson in Intimacy and Mission.

Here, we are short on waistcoats. Actually a bit short on waists as well. And not because I've been reading novels and eating bon-bons, which is my idea of how you are supposed to spend the summer. The only fiction I read this month was The Foundling by Francis Cardinal Spellman, which rests on the most ludicrous legalistic premise, but develops interestingly--if you resist the urge to throw the book across the room--$4; Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande, an illegal immigrant novel that Robert had to read for college. (Not bad, but I couldn't help thinking, $20,000 a year for this?) I also read a previously unpublished short story by Dorothy Sayers, The Traveling Rug. The little book even includes copies of her handwritten manuscript. I'm not sure how much it is, because I don't know if Dave gave it to me or loaned it to me. We are a little wild here.....

FIRST TUESDAY WRITERS - September 5 at 7:15
GOSPEL OF JOHN - September 12 at 12:30 (now a monthly, open, creative gathering)
HUMOROUS SPEECH CONTEST - Aptos Toastmasters 12:00, Wednesday Sept. 13, Rio Sands Motel
COMEDY MASTERS - Sunday, September 10, 4:00 at Michael's on Main

Listen, Celebrate, Learn. Listen to God and each other, celebrate in diverse communities, keep on learning. We can never come to the end of God and we are in this together, forever.

Alliee +