…but I might talk about bread. Because, LOVE.
At the risk of giving people the wrong idea, I’m going to begin with an explanation of Here A Slice, There A Slice — and it’s going to involve the Bible.
If you’re a Christian or a student of theology, you have heard of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6: 9-13). That line in there, “Give us this day our daily bread,” has been a struggle for me.
For me, it triggers all kinds of insecurities. What have I ever done to stand still and expect God or the Universe to give me what I need, let alone what I want? Question upon question upon question about worthiness and specialness and all kinds of crap twist my head into stupid answers that exclude me from believing I can expect to be loved and supported on such a level.
I could go into the layers of personal history that, in the past, dictated to me that I don’t have a spot in the receiving line, but that would be a waste of time because now I know better. I have always been loved and supported by the greatness of being, and this blog is about appreciating it.
For me, “Give us this day our daily bread” is too passive. Maybe that’s why I have never been able to own it. I need to participate; to interact. For some, taking action may translate into “I’ll get my own damn bread,” but that approach fails for me as well.
For me, participation begins with bearing witness. Bearing witness is more than seeing something happen and talking about it later. Bearing witness is an active state of awareness, a conscious plugging in to your mental processes to register and record multiple dimensions of an occurrence, and then sharing in a meaningful way the truth of what you experience.
For me, bearing witness becomes the act of recognizing the daily bread I’m given, and giving thanks for already having received it. This state of mind sets me up to “receive” the slices of daily bread that I know are coming tomorrow. Rather than an ask for something specific, it’s a knowing that if I just look around I will recognize the gift when I see it.
Because, this is the bread that saves my life. If you ask how I’m doing and I tell you it’s all rainbows and butterflies in my world, or use the key words, “unicorns and lollipops,” it means I’m struggling. With depression, with loneliness, with deep-seeded beliefs in my lack of value that have grown branches and limbs and tried to infect my psyche. I hack at them daily, and I get my strength from the Universe saying, “Here, enjoy this daffodil blooming in this vase. Yesterday, it was a tight bud, unsure, unsteady, nothing more than potential. Look at it today!” So I look, and I love this one thing and I wonder at its beauty, and I own that I’m being invited into the inner circle of few people who will ever see this specific bloom, and I remind myself how cool that is.
Daily, I have a chance to participate in beauty, life, joy. Daily, I can choose to lock myself away in the warm, familiar darkness — the one that lies and calls itself “emotional safety” when it is really starvation. Emotional deprivation.
For me, emotional safety comes with the sudden rush of a thousand plovers taking off in swirls across the bay. A cat sighing deeply in a patch of sun on the back of my chair. The charming nervousness of the couple at the next table over, clearly on their first date and clearly delighted in their meeting.
These are the things that happen 126 million times a day, every day, all over the world, but if they happen in your presence — when you are truly present — they are gifts of love and joy.
For me, the privilege of bearing witness is food for my soul. My hopes are that if I invite you to look at the world through my window, maybe you, too will find yourself eating up the beautiful, uplifting things that are out there just waiting to be truly seen.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so one thing you can expect from me is a blog post about the borderline orgasmic experience of biting into real sourdough bread. Without turning this into a religious thing, I will also quote the Buddha, the Bible, and the Bee Gees, among others. Messages of love are messages of love, regardless of the human source.
As I sit here on a stool at a gate next to a Starbucks inside an airport, I find myself struggling with which slices of daily bread to focus on. Which do I mention? The witty comments on my Facebook post about having a noisy suitcase? The little girl and her father who just came out of the mens room, chattering away together? The laughter of the baristas sharing an inside joke? The gaggle of young girls excited to be traveling together? The way I made the TSA at security chuckle (I love when that happens).
It’s coming up on noon, and I have a full loaf to think about.