Wednesday, September 12, 2007

how is jesus like bread?

it has been far too long since i have sat here with time, without interruption and with the level of emotion and depth of thought i have here today. i have put so much into this for the past couple of weeks. like i said in the posts below, this just will not let me go. i know there is a key here that will unlock something for me that i have yet to understand.

as a compulsive overeater i have found/find comfort, safety, friendship, solace, energy, consolation and satisfaction in food. it is a sick, twisted relationship that is broken at it's most basic level. food for me has been used to replace or fill those broken things in me and my world that little else could seem to come close to. and no other food for me more than bread. i have given up chocolate for almost 8 years now, and added sugar for probably about 5, but a life without bread is unimaginable for me. it's not about the carbs (well, not only about the carbs) or the affect this has on my physical body because there is something deeply emotional about this that i just can't seem to figure out how this all weaves together.

comparing jesus, not communion, the lords supper or the eucharist to bread just pulled at me like little else. i knew that there was a deeper truth here that i wasn't understanding. i'm not sure i do even yet, but i'm praying that as i type things become more real and i am given a clearer understanding of why this is so 'elemental' for me.

to those who commented and posted, thank you - your thoughts are precious to me, your involvement so meaningful. and it has helped me think in ways and from perspectives i had not considered. i have always stumbled through my thoughts on 'communion' because it consists of two substances that my addictive nature is wary of. bread and wine. i have never been an active alcoholic, but know that if given the chance to make that choice i would abuse alcohol in the same way i can abuse food. why then did god pick these two addictive elements to remember him?

the nature of the communion elements - bread and wine - is truly transformational - such simple, basic ingredients - grain and grapes - squished, ground and pulverized into something they were not before - reduced to their most primitive state and then such small efforts and time turn them miraculously into something they were not before. and such lovely things. a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou... is this not what the best of life is made of?

erin brought up the idea of the bread coming from the grain being ground - i began to think that bread cannot be bread without violence and transformation. the mortar and pestle crushing, the muscles kneading, the deep heat of the oven baking - you can smell it, can't you? is there a better smell in the world? maybe the top of a baby's head, but little else can compare. your mouth begins to water. your stomach begins to growl. butter, homemade jam or peanut butter? what can compare?

how is jesus like bread? how can i find such mouth-watering satisfaction in the person of christ? i have been pondering this for days. i wrote above "comfort, safety, friendship, solace, energy, consolation and satisfaction in food jesus." that is true in my head, but in my heart i know it to be different. i would rather turn to a buttered piece of bread in an emotional crisis than i would to turn to prayer. i live this out. if prayer, regular prayer, not the sublime moments i have from time to time, filled me like this i wouldn't be where i am. how do i make the true, real transition from that first bite to finding these things truly in jesus?

being empty physically is terrifying for me sometimes. the absence of physical form of jesus being like bread just doesn't seem to fill the void like chewing bread does. the picture hope used of using wonder bread to fill the cracks in our selves was so powerful for me. it was so visual. i loathe wonder bread - sliced white processed bread isn't ever what i'm looking for - i want the loaf, the kind you have to saw through - that's the real thing that does it for me - but i know most of my childhood was patched up with wonder bread. but the missing link memory isn't there yet.

i made the emotional connection to many of the binge foods i have struggled with in the past - understanding why a certain food is so powerful helps me so much. raw cookie dough was an instant link to my maternal grandmother. when she came to visit things at home were good - my parents were attentive, grandma was so comforting - i associated that feeling with that gross, disgusting binge food. i ate more raw eggs and butter in a month than should ever be consumed in a lifetime. when i understood this i was able to set it aside. i can have those wonderful memories and understand them now without needing the food to make me feel. i can't seem to find that link with bread yet.

my mom didn't make bread, i don't think i can associate it with anything yet, but i know it's there - and i know that when i am able to understand it more fully it will have less power over me. so how is jesus like bread?

tying communion into this complicates it for me - i know that is a huge part, but i think the metaphor is bigger than just communion. he never said "i am the wine of life" - but he did say, apart from communion:

John 6:48-51 - "I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread-living Bread!-who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live-and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self."

i think that this plays into some bad theology that i need to re-form. the "get out of jail free" kind of christianity i was raised with concerned itself only with conversion and the glory of heaven one day - and the in-between real life and kingdom were non-existent. our real lives didn't start until heaven. we were just putting in time and making more converts, just dying to have that rapture and get on with it already. i now believe that this 'live-and forever!' means NOW, HERE AND NOW.

so how is this 'bread of life' giving me life today? how can it satisfy me at the most basic of times when i am feeling exposed or unsafe? it just doesn't seem to comfort me like a mouthful of buttered bread. (just being completely honest here). dang. i had hoped that by typing it would all magically fall into place. i still don't get it - it still feels just a tad beyond the reach of my fingers - but i'm sitting in the tension of not knowing. of not fully understanding yet.

erin also mentioned that "'Aysh' is the Arabic word for both bread and life." and patchouli reminded me that "Christ as bread--it reminds me of manna in the desert. Pure, daily, just right to nourish us--and we have taken that and turned it into "Wonder Bread" filling, but without the nourishment. I want manna from Heaven."

manna is part of this too - and it is LIFE - and it is trans-cultural. provision is there if i take it, i know. i can be full without being stuffed, but somehow it just doesn't seem to translate yet. manna for the day. too much taken gets moldy the next day. just for today... enough.

jesus goes on to say:

John 6:53-58 "But Jesus didn't give an inch. "Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. In the same way that the fully alive Father sent me here and I live because of him, so the one who makes a meal of me lives because of me. This is the Bread from heaven. Your ancestors ate bread and later died. Whoever eats this Bread will live always."

a hearty appetite - who more than the alcoholic and compulsive overeater has this hearty appetite? i know it is meant to be filled and satiated with far more than our drugs of our choice though. i know this is settling for bait instead of a feast. i'm tired of bait. i loathe the counterfeit. i long for the "meal of christ" he speaks of here. i just can't seem to truly find it's equal in this temporary place in between.

the satisfaction and completion i long for hasn't yet been found in communion with christ. all that is within me wants it to be true, but i can't honestly say that i'm there yet. and i feel so inadequate - why? am i fundamentally discontent? insatiable? i truly do not know. i pray it is just that my understanding is lacking. that the penny hasn't dropped yet. that what seems just out of my reach will one day be grasped. until then i will be sitting with this, living in the tension and begging for god to make this real and understandable to me.

my not-yet-met friend steve tells of a sacred communion time here (thank you steve, this still makes me tear up when i think about it): Thoughts on Commuion, Jesus as Bread


anj said...

You know what I think of communion - I think it is much bigger than the ritual or the idol we have made of it. And as I read your ruminating I am hard pressed to understand. Bread for me is not a comfort food; it is a food that takes a lot of energy to chew and to eat. Frankly, a substance I avoid because of the energy it takes. The closest I can come to is the realization of how much of my mother's voice I had internalized as the voice of God; and the surrender to ask God to root that one out so I could be grounded in Truth. Part of my reading lately has been Gerald May's Will and Spirit; and something else that comes to mind is his differentiation between willfullness and willingness. When i think of the white bread substitutes I use, it is because of my willfullness to still make my life work on my own. I wonder if you are, in this process, entering into willingness? And I wonder if the difference between the two, willfullness and willingness, is the difference between bread as addiction and bread as Life? In any event, I am excited to see as Way opens for you in this.

Sarah Louise said...

bobbie: I'm working on this one too:

"if regular prayer, not the sublime moments i have from time to time, filled me like this i wouldn't be where i am."

I know I'm off balance when I don't walk for days in a row--today was back on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) Anyways, we struggle together, my dear sister. Thank you for continuing to "chew" on this one.

Also, I think you need a new label to add to the past three posts: communion. (Gosh, she's bossy, that SL!)

wilsonian said...

Revisiting... thinking about rising... of the process between mixing and proofing, proofing and baking. Thinking about the time it takes to create space... those air pockets that make bread lighter.

No, nothing more yet.

Patchouli said...

Ahh, you finished my thoughts!

Lydia2007 said...

What came to my mind as I read your ponderings about bread - you are comparing something tangible with something intangible: a slice of buttered bread which we can see, feel and taste with our physical bodies/and Jesus who we can only experience on a spiritual level. Your question "Why did God pick these two addictive elements (bread and wine) to remember Him?" jumped right off the page at me and made me wonder if maybe it is actually the other way around - we become addicted to these substances BECAUSE they symbolize God to us and we are desperate in our need for Him.