Soft evening light streams through a kitchen window and onto the worn surface of a wooden table. The hermit thrush sings, and by these chimes the woman knows it’s time to begin her work. She lays out flour, water, salt and the fragrant yeast. Her hands have memorized the motions – sprinkling, stirring, kneading. Her arms are strong from this nightly task. Love, frustration, sweat and prayers are worked into the dough till it is soft and resilient to her touch. It is the same process, day after day.
She makes bread, makes a living for her family. She sets the offering to rise in the warmth of the kitchen. The last thing she will do before she sleeps is punch it down again and separate it into loaves to be set in pans. Under the cover of night it will transform and gain its life. She will rise before the dawn to the robin’s song, and will make the fire blaze and put the loaves into the oven. As the family wakes they will smell her sweet labour, and she will be satisfied to place golden manna before them. They break the bread together and are warmed for the day’s work. They eat till they are full, and there is always enough left for supper. By the time the thrush chimes again it will all be consumed, crust and crumb. The woman will sigh and begin again the daily sacrifice. It is their life.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst . . . I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6)