Take This Bread

One early, cloudy morning when I was forty-six, I walked into a church, ate a piece of bread, took a sip of wine. A routine Sunday activity for tens of millions of Americans — except that up until that moment I'd led a thoroughly secular life, at best indifferent to religion, more often appalled by its fundamentalist crusades. This was my first communion. It changed everything.

Eating Jesus, as I did that day to my great astonishment, led me against all my expectations to a faith I'd scorned and work I'd never imagined. The mysterious sacrament turned out to be not a symbolic wafer at all, but actual food — indeed, the bread of life. In that shocking moment of communion, filled with a deep desire to reach for and become part of a body, I realized what I'd been doing with my life all along was what I was meant to do: feed people.

And so I did. I took communion, I passed the bread to others, and then I kept going, compelled to find new ways to share what I'd experienced. I started a food pantry and gave away literally tons of fruit and vegetables and cereal around the same altar where I'd first received the body of Christ.

from the Prologue, Sara Miles, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion

What do you do for Lent? Same as always? Or skip dessert? Decline chocolate? Non-fat lattes only?

I like going back to the ancient suggestion that I take time to reflect on my need to repent. That I open myself to the possibility of conversion.

I love marking this season that leads up to Easter with a journey through a book, the turning of pages taking the place of steps taken on a pilgrim's path. This year, it's going to be Take This Bread, and I invite you to join me. We read through the book together, and once a week we meet to talk about favorite passages, about questions and discoveries, and to take the bread of life, give thanks for it, break it, and eat it.

Does this sound like something you'd like to do? Get a copy of the book, and meet me on Wednesdays at 7pm, starting on February 17 (with smudges on our foreheads), in my study at the church.

It's no coincidence that this also fits in beautifully with our hunger:360 project.