When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat. When you eat bread and drink wine, I want you to think about the body and the blood every time, not just when the bread and wine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere – on a picnic table or a hardwood floor or a beach.
Shauna Niequist | Bread and Wine | 17
When they show up anywhere – in Kenya, on your wedding day, with family…
The dusk had gathered quickly. We slowly moved closer together as the sun fell, each drawn away from individual exploration of the chief’s hut to settle in by the fire. Some perched on stools in traditional fashion, others made their bums as comfortable as possible on errant logs.
Steam rising from our mugs of chai mingled with wafts of smoke drifting from the fire a few feet away. The leaves being laid on the hot coals sputtered and moaned but didn’t burn. We huddled around that fire, barely able to see two feet in front of us, and accepted the charred goat liver as it passed around from hand to hand. Shadows in front of us moved fluidly as they tore and hacked and served hunks of roasted goat meat with machetes that hung by their side day in and day out.
I chewed and chewed on my piece of goat with an overwhelming sense of camaraderie and connection. Despite the semi-traumatizing demise of that night’s dinner, I was experiencing the most sincere hospitality from these Samburu strangers. We ate with our hands and in the dust. We ate someone’s prized possession, freely given for our nourishment. We ate to show respect, to give thanks, and to build bridges.
Our videographer placed himself front and center before the gazebo. Friends and family grouped around him and his camera. The smell of See’s candy and brown butter cookies and cupcakes was already heavy in the air as Tim and I cut into our little cake. A thick vein of cream cheese frosting held two layers of moist pumpkin cake together as we hoisted it onto the plate. I eyed Tim warily as he brought the plastic fork closer to my mouth, but he stuck to our decision about cake cutting manners. My lips closed around the fork and that sweet piece of pastry with finality, like this somehow sealed the deal. Tim and I were sharing a sweet moment in the midst of celebrating God’s faithfulness in brining us together.
A long baguette rested between us. We tore off chunks at a time leaving little flakes of crispy crust littering the tablecloth. Though the house was familiar, it wasn’t our own, but this could have been a scene from ten years ago or five years ago. We sat around a foreign table eating our fish and bread thankful for the time spent together.
Breaking bread connects people. It’s a celebration of what’s to come and a way to remember what has passed. We break bread out of love, out of a desire to nourish both our bodies and our souls. We break bread to be a family and extend family to others.
Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread and Wine, is a beautiful picture of life around the table. She writes poignant snapshots of the joys and pains of breaking bread with one another and provides delicious recipes to encourage us to make memories around the tables we share.