I did some imagining with this one, so it’s a little different than usual. See what you think.
Bread from Heaven
We walked away from Eygpt for three months. We watched the moon grow dark, only to be born like a cradle rocking in the sky. The stars were so bright, their great river looked like it was boiling across the sky. I sat outside for hours until my eyes grew heavy and I fell asleep before a shooting star blinked out until my mother called me into the tent. Those nights our livestock was quiet. My stomach grumbled. Our provisions were gone.
I never thought I’d miss the melons as big as a man’s head, full of juice and sweetness. I missed onions and garlic that flavored our soups and stews. Even though the Taskmasters worked us to the bone, our bellies were full. Our mothers dimly smiled when the men ate, smacking their lips, their quiet approval. We looked forward to those meals, a few moments of rest, before the work started up again. The old stories talked about how God rested on the seventh day after he made the earth and heavens. If God could rest, why couldn’t we? “God if you can rest, why not us?” We prayed. “God if you can rest?” Even that good food did not fill the hollow in our bellies when my uncle was whipped, for not shaping bricks fast enough. He died. “God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, you promised after 400 years you’d liberate us. God if you can rest, why can’t we?”
And we walked away from all that after God did things to the Egyptians–bloody water, darkness, hail, frogs, flies. We heard Moses asked Pharaoh to let us go worship, but he refused. We kept making bricks, wondering whether these natural disasters would make any difference. God heard our prayer. He actually heard our tears! He told us to eat lamb and flatbread and bitter herbs. We had to sprinkle the lamb’s blood on the doorpost. When we walked out of Egypt, we walked through our neighbors’ tears and past dead animals. The first born in all Egypt died that night.
Our feet kicked up dust. We were coated in it. I watched the footprints ahead of me–sometimes big feet, sometimes small. My feet ached. This was harder than making bricks. Why wouldn’t we complain to Moses? Our food bags were empty, but then we heard The Voice say you’ll have bread in the morning, and quail, so you know I am the Lord. I heard longing in that Voice. How can you hear longing on One as powerful as this One who was leading us, but I swear I heard it.
Sure enough we had food the next day. What is it? we asked. It tasted like the finest honey, and crumbled in our mouths with a little crunch. It filled our bellies. Our legs stopped aching. I felt so good I wanted to run and jump and play! I felt so good I helped my mother with her chores before she called me in. My cousin didn’t believe it would fall the next day, so she gathered extra. It was disgusting, full of worms and bugs. Well, the voice had told us , “Don’t gather the bread from heaven on the seventh day. Just that sixth day we could gather a double portion. But not any other day.”
There were so many quail they seemed to rise out of the ground. My father caught them with his bare hands. My parents made me pluck their feathers, but what a feast we had between the bread from heaven and the roast quail.
Finally, we could rest our aching feet, not worry about gathering “What is it?” I wondered as I found shade under a bush: Did God take a nap on his day off?
I walked forward standing six feet behind because Covid. We stepped up like a wedding procession. Slowly. Then it was my turn. I lifted my hand, one crossed over the other. The pastor, his eyes bright, his mouth hidden, his hands behind rubber, because Covid, pressed a wafer into my hands. “The body of Christ given for you.” I took it in my mouth. Pressed it with my tongue. It tasted faintly sweet. I thought of manna, enough for a day, given in the desert. But I was in a hurry because the drop of wine was next. Bruce was behind me. And others. “The blood of Christ”. It tasted sharp, metallic. I could have gulped the whole tray.
I wept on my way back to my seat because I saw Jesus kneeling to wash our feet, I felt my unease that the Lord of the universe took my feet in warm water and lovingly ran his hands over them washing off the shit and dust, his hands warm, and loving, soothing the callouses and my plantar fasciitis. The Lord who served all of creation by speaking it into existence, his voice so powerful whole galaxies spun away like so much spittle.
I was back in that upper room. We were filled with dread. The crowd singing Hosanna aggravated the priests and rabbis. We could feel the tension on the streets. But Jesus wanted to celebrate the Passover any way. He told us there was a room ready and waiting for us. I helped prepare the lamb and the flat bread and the bitter herbs. We were subdued. We could feel it in the air, something awful was coming. But how could it? He said he was the Messiah and didn’t Isaiah say the Messiah would make the wolf and the lamb lie down together?
He gathered up his robe and knelt and bathed each of our feet. What is our Lord doing bathing our feet? Peter objected, but He said, “If you don’t you won’t be my people.” He held up a loaf and said, “This is my body.” He held up a cup of wine. “This is my blood. Eat and drink of these.”
He told us to love each other. Already that’s been the hardest thing. He said he was going to make a place for us. He told us not to be afraid. Then he went out into the night, the men following, everything about them on edge, like they were going to war. We stayed back to clean up from the feast. It’s like the night came inside that room after he left. We were filled with dread.
I sat down. Took Bruce’s hand, felt the bread rising in me, spreading peace all the way from my belly to my fingers touching his fingers. I felt the light of many stars, as faint as those stars, begin to spark, begin to drive the dread, and light the darkness.
Well, that’s all I know for now. Thank you for reading this.
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This is some of your best writing, Katie. I’m glad that you “did some imagining with this one” and created something “a little different than usual.” Anyway, that’s what I think. Love your photos too.
Thanks so much for liking this one! It is an experiment. I do wish you’d comment on Substack because that’s where I’m gathering my community.
I just copied my comment to Substack. 😎
Oh thank you dear friend. We are praying for your visit with your friend.