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Happiness quite unshared, can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.

Charlotte Bronte

I think you should know I’ve been thinking of bread.

And not just because I like to eat. Which to be clear, I do. 

But because of the way people keep sharing with me, break apart their plenty to give me in my want,

And my want feels like a bottomless pit, like I am a child in a growth spurt, a teenage boy after football practice, a woman at the end of a bad day with two quarts of ice cream.

I am ravenous, insatiable. I just can’t seem to get enough.

Still, there you stand, patiently handing me crusts, feeding me like I was a hungry duck, like I was a beggar.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those who share, and share, and share, even though they know it’s not enough, it will never be enough. They take what they have, asking that it will be enough, that it will rise and stretch, that the yeast will grow and that all the hungry mouths will be fed.

There are people I know who are like this. Giving. Giving. Giving.

And when I say giving, giving, giving out loud, it makes me think of a woman I met once, but didn’t get to know well. She died recently in her sleep from a heart attack. Suddenly, unexpectedly she was gone, taken without ever dragging her feet, or traveling the long, heartbreaking journey of saying goodbye.

And so, the people who loved her were stunned. They didn’t know what to do, how could she be gone without them telling her what she meant to them? How she influenced them, how she had made life sweeter and more bearable, just because she was around? How she didn’t just lift up the arms that hung down, but had kept standing there, sweat beading on her forehead while she continued to hold the arms of those around her, up.

There are people like that, and she was a person like that.

She made bread to share with her friends that was used in her church’s sacrament every week. She patted each loaf like it was a colicy baby, thumped on it’s back, placing it in the metal crib to grow. Every. Single. Week.

She loved without reservation, and was loved fiercely in return. And so, when word got out that she had passed without warning, the last breath not so much a breath as a sigh. People took to any outlet they could, to send a message, to process, to say how much they loved the way she cared, the way she tucked her loaves into their rectangle beds like were her children.

Pictures and memories, stories, and gratitude flooded social media, with everyone wishing they could have shared with her, they same way she shared with them. Everyone reaching into their pockets to find something worth giving, they dig deeper, Braille fingers searching deeper, knowing there was nothing to find, nothing to read, no crumbs left behind.

They understood they could never make bread like her. Understood the knowledge, the technique, the special way she’d kneaded extra love into the dough, that it all went with her. That it rose like ashes from a still smoldering fire, a library burned down.

Still they reach in their pockets anyway, because they couldn’t help but search. To give what they could, share what they had, to love the way she had loved.

But I don’t want to talk about sad things. About death. About how there will be wonder bread for her sacrament meetings now. What I want to talk about is the ripple effect of influence. One stone falling like a star from the sky.

The point of impact a hollowing, a divot in the water, with widening circles growing, and the way they reach you when you least expect it, like a hand grabbing yours in the dark.

Some people feed people, feed their stomachs and their souls. They notice the ones who are hungry for mothering, the ones who’s need for a friend growls as loudly as a hungry stomach, insatiable. They offer a knowing look, a soft touch. They feed others one by one by one, the food stretching, and stretching and stretching.

When we share of our want, instead of only our plenty. When we search for those who are lost, who don’t stand begging on the sidewalk by the gas station, but are hungry in less obvious places. Hungry even with food all around. Bread becomes Mana. Arrives just when it’s needed most. The sweet, sweet taste of hope.

Some people are afraid to share, they look at their meager offerings, and they know it will never stretch, it will never be enough to fill the ravenous hunger for love. And the stark reality of need is so frightening, that they guard their supply like a miser, afraid to share in case they run out. In case they risk they themselves getting hungry too.

But here’s the thing with broken bread, when we share, inexplicably there is more. To break bread is to affirm trust, confidence, and comfort with an individual or group of people.

And when you go a step beyond only sharing with those who it’s easy to give to; and share with those who have wounded you with the sharp shards of hurried words, the daggers of cold stares. When you share with everyone, break bread together, something yields, hearts soften, people heal.

And maybe, in the end I missed out on knowing her the way the others knew her. Maybe it was just one broken piece of substance she gave me.

But what she taught me in the giving of her want, to my need, is that enough can be a feast.

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