Excerpt #7

All of the sudden, the words I sing every day at morning prayer echoed in my head. Send out your light and your truth, that they may guide us and lead us to your holy holy hill and to your dwelling. I felt dizzy. This was God’s holy hill: the Hill. And that apartment, with the broken tricycle out front, next to Ruth’s? That was God’s dwelling. God lived right there, in that actual apartment. God lived in Ruth’s hands.

What had I been thinking by praying those words without really paying attention?

They were real. Above me, above the projects and Ruth’s tears, above the wrecked roofs and broken doors and every mistake I’d ever made in my life, was the dark sky, luminous in the east. And in my hands were some Cheerios, some lettuce, and a loaf of bread.

I was going to keep giving that food away. What I glimpsed in the projects was the last thing I’d expected growing up: that because God was about feeding and being fed, religion could be a way not to separate people but to unite them.

It wasn’t that class and race disappeared in the blinding light of God. It wasn’t that the painful cultural splits among believers – over abortion or homosexuality or the role of laypeople – were erased by invoking the name of Jesus. It wasn’t even that people on the Hill who prayed with me or blessed me or told me about their churches necessarily shared my own peculiar ideas about God. But something happened when I brought a plastic bag full of lettuce and potatoes and left it on Ms. Robinson’s table. Something happened when Ruth fixed me a plate of neck bones and green beans and made me sit down to eat it, or Ty-Jay offered me a sip of his ice tea. The sharing of food was an actual sacrament, one that resonated beyond the church and its regulations, and into a real experience of the divine. I wanted more.

Sara Miles, Take This Bread, 196-97

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