We’ve had a guest in our house since the world began sheltering in place.
Perhaps for fear of being criticized or judged, we’ve not made it public until now.
Inviting her in was a personal decision. She’s been pretty much absent from our lives in the past 20 plus years. Having her back reminded us of how much a part of our lives she'd been in years past. Her presence has added a richness to this time of isolated togetherness that we might not have had if we hadn’t brought her into our home.
Her name is Sara Lee.
Sara Lee Butter Bread, to be precise.
You may know some of her relatives – Wonder Bread, Arnold Country White, Sunbeam, Purity Maid. It’s a large but much maligned family.
Our girl arrived unannounced in a reusable grocery bag, resting daintily atop a frozen loaf of Ezekial Bread. Her delicate nature required that she rest alone on the countertop while the other food staples found their places in cabinets and freezer compartments.
She was patient, knowing that once her twisty tie was loosened, she would bring joy to our household that we were unaware was missing.
“Oh, my!” I exclaim, as I bit into a BLT. Her velvety softness envelopes the salty crunch of the bacon, the sunshiney taste of the juicy tomato, and the bright crunch of the lettuce. I couldn’t help myself from whispering, “I’ve missed you, Sara Lee.”
Here’s what’s funny. Whenever we sit down to lunch with Sara Lee, we immediately start reminiscing about our childhoods. Our moms never bought hamburger or hot dog buns unless it was a picnic. Our burgers nestled in the center of two slices of white bread. A hot dog lay diagonal across a single slice of bread. With the other corners folded together, it was the perfect balance between bread and meat.
For a snack or a light lunch, we learned early to make a one-slice sandwich. Jim calls it a “bender.” In my house we called it a “pocketbook.” The technique: One slice of Sara Lee, sandwich filling on on one or both sides, then fold it over like closing a book.
One day, when I had plans, Jim ate lunch without me.
Man, that was a good lunch!” he said, his smile lighting up the room.
I was curious. “What did you have?”
“A peanut butter and jelly bender and a little glass of milk.”
I knew that he’d not only had lunch, but he’d also taken a stroll down memory lane. The soft bread against his palate transported him just as it does me.
Thanks to Sara Lee, we recall a thousand peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we ate growing up.
Here's one of mine:
It is summertime. I feel the cool vinyl of the kitchen chair against the back of my bare legs. My feet don’t touch the floor and I swing my legs slightly, occasionally brushing the cold metal chair legs with the backs of my calves. Bite after bite, I study the pattern the sunshine makes on wall opposite the window. Mom has put a pot of green beans on to cook for dinner and I wrinkle my nose at the smell. I hear Grandma in the sewing room talking quietly to herself, as if she is telling secrets. Her sewing machine, starts, stops and then whirs for an especially long seam before stopping again. Mom is sweeping. The rhythmic “swish, swish” of the broom makes my eyelids grow heavy even though it is not yet noon.
A nostalgic daydream brought on by a simple loaf of highly processed, nutritionally suspect, light as a feather white bread.
Bread itself is the most basic form of physical nourishment.
“Bread” also refers to spiritual nourishment.
When, in the wilderness, the enemy taunted Jesus to turn stones into bread to satisfy His physical hunger, Jesus replied, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
In the Gospel of John, we read that Jesus is The Word made flesh. It is not surprising then that Jesus, in chapter 6 refers to himself as the “bread of life.”
We pray for that bread when we recite The Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Our physical bodies may need to consume baked bread, but our spiritual selves need more.
That spiritual food comes from a personal experience with Jesus, The One who further declared, “ …Whoever comes to me will never go hungry; and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”(John 6:35)
Spiritual food and drink, available to all, free for the asking. No lines, no waiting.
Sara Lee’s charm may soon fade. We may eventually grow tired of her blandness and too-light texture and long for something more substantial, heartier. However, one thing is for certain. We will never lose our desire for the satisfaction and spiritual nourishment found in Christ, Our Lord.
Lord, we embrace You with our hearts, our minds and our spirits. Reveal Yourself to us as only You can. We trust You, O God, and praise You for Your mercy and grace. Amen