You are the bread

{Finding a new perspective on my own place, my own people, in my own words}.

“You are the bread and the wine of your place. Do you hear the biblical hints in that statement? That is, God has put the place in you and you in the place. The place meets God through you and God meets the place through you in the local church”

I woke up early this moving to arrange a divine encounter between a few of my very best friends: flour, water and salt.

Flour travels for our weekly meetings in a 50 pound sack that usually lives in the cooler part of our home for about 6 months at a time. Wheat doesn’t well in Santa Margarita. It would grow, in fact a human friend just down the road grew, threshed and ground his own wheat for bread just a few years ago. They say it would take about 1/4 acre of wheat to feed one family for one year. We don’t have enough land and we probably eat more bread than your average family. That’s because we enjoy life more than your average family. Bread is life, at least it makes life worth living. 

50 pounds, divided evenly into two kitchen storage containers, enters our meetings in 900 increments. 900 bread flour join 100 wheat four for an even kilo. Somehow this makes the whole thing work in an easy and memorable way. So, flour travels, arrives, waits, and on joins the party every Friday morning.

Salt arrives in much smaller quantities to play its large role in a minor way. Sea salt does make a difference, though I could not tell you why. The simple, concentrated flavor that gives rise to so much in bread – just try to leave it out and see what happens. 20 grams of salt, always shows up 20 minutes late to the party. Flour and water need a little while to get to know each other before salt impedes the process and moves the whole thing toward flavor.

Water flows simply falls out of bed and rolls downhill from the town well that can be seen from the yard if you stand in just the right position. This is Santa Margarita water, fresh from the ground and solid with minerals. The joke is that the local water will either make you live forever or give you kidney stones. This is the water of life. It combines distant flour from the land and salt from the sea to create something wholly new – bread. Life. Joy. Fellowship.

Santa Margarita bacteria join the Santa Margarita water and the distant flour/ salt mixture to reproduce life. This bread began many years ago now when flour and water, mixed in equal measure by weight, was allowed to sit on the kitchen counter overnight. It was cut in half, again fed with water and flour, equal weight and allowed to sit. This process went on for impatient weeks to bring death to life. Still water. Dry flour. Now alive with bacteria and oxygen, combining into what we call flavor. A little bit of that fermented dough, combined with flour and water, began working on this loaf last night before I laid my head to bed. When I entered the kitchen it was awake, alive and ready for the day’s labor. 

And these Santa Margarita hands of mine engage in the providential act that becomes bread. Flour. Water. Salt. Bacteria and the labor of the hands of this man to make this bread that can only exist in this place. The flavor of a people and a place. My people. My place. The bread that gives life.

And this providential gift becomes a miraculous ritual on the table of communion the following Sunday morning. Local bread and local wine, brought together to make an ancient ordinance, an ordained rite, to nourish body and soul of local church. Well fed men and women feeding only on the good news the Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died, now strengthened to love their people and their place.