Bread by Helena Minton
The dough rises in the sun,
History of the human race inside it
Orgies, famines, Christianity,
Eras when a man could have his arm
Chopped off for stealing half a loaf.
I punch it down, knead the dark
Flour unto the light, let it bake,
Then set it on the table beside the knife,
Learning the power,
Cooks have over others, the please
Of saying eat.
The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day. — Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
The Seder nights… tie me with the centuries before me. — Ludwig Fran
from A Short History of Israel, Notes and Glosses By Charles Reznikoff
A hundred generations, yes, a hundred and twenty-five,
had the strength each day
not to eat this and that (unclean!)
not to say this and that,
not to do this and that (unjust!),
and with all this and all that
to go about
as men and Jews
among their enemies
(these are the Pharisees you mocked at, Jesus).
Whatever my grandfathers did or said
for all of their brief lives
still was theirs,
as all of it drops at a moment make the fountain
and all of its leaves a palm.
Each word they spoke and every thought
was heard, each step and every gesture seen,
their past was still the present and the present
a dread future’s.
But I am private as an animal.
I have eaten whatever I liked,
I have slept as long as I wished,
I have left the highway like a dog
to run into every alley;
now I must learn to fast and to watch.
I shall walk better in these heavy boots
I will fast for you, Judah,
and be silent for you
and wake in the night because of you;
I will speak for you
and feast because of you
on unleavened bread and herbs.
Bread By Richard Levine
Each night, in a space he’d make
between waking and purpose,
my grandfather donned his one
suit, in our still dark house, and drove
through Brooklyn’s deserted streets
following trolley tracks to the bakery.
There he’d change into white
linen work clothes and cap,
and in the absence of women,
his hands were both loving, well
into dawn and throughout the day—
kneading, rolling out, shaping
each astonishing moment
of yeasty predictability
in that windowless world lit
by slightly swaying naked bulbs,
where the shadows staggered, woozy
with the aromatic warmth of the work.
Then, the suit and drive, again.
At our table, graced by a loaf
that steamed when we sliced it,
softened the butter and leavened
the very air we’d breathe,
he’d count us blessed.
The piece of bread is an ambassador of the cosmos offering nourishment and support … In the Christian tradition … The bread is Jesus. Jesus is not someone, something, that is outside the bread, Jesus is the bread. And with mindfulness, and concentration, you get in touch with Jesus. In Buddhism, we don’t say that, but we say the piece of bread in your hand is the body of the Cosmos. And when you see the sunshine, the cloud, the rain, the earth, everything in the piece of bread, you have seen the bread … A few seconds of mindfulness help you to see the bread as it is, as it is, the body of the Cosmos. Everything is in there. And with that, you put it into your mouth, and you get in touch with the whole Cosmos. You don’t have to think … there’s awareness … there’s getting in touch … there’s a feeling that’s inside. But there is no thinking. — Thich Nhat Hanh
The spiritual task of life is to feed hope. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within. The whole purpose of wrestling with life is to be transformed into the self we are meant to become, to step out of the confines of our false securities and allow our creating God to go on creating. In us. — Sr. Joan Chittister
Easter By Jill Alexander Essbaum
is my season
I feel alone.
As if the stone
from the head
of the tomb
in the doorframe
of my room,
I’ve ever loved
my able reach.
And each time
of this marble
they are not