Photo: ‘The Alternative Bread Company’, English Market, Cork. (Photo on Flickr here.)
It all started with a trip to the dentist. The week before he had warned me that for my next visit I was going to be sat in the chair for about an hour and a half. With this not particularly welcome bit of news there was an up side – I had a few days to think about what I could do with my time in that chair. My first thought was to listen to music via headphones but I needed to be able to hear what the dentist had to say so that was not an option. I eventually decided to try and (silently!) pray the Lord’s prayer instead, not just say it through a hundred times, but to pray it through once, spending time on each line, mulling the words over, what they meant, their implications and so on. Well I have to say that it was the best time I have ever spent in the dentists chair! With my mouth numbed because of the anesthetic and my eyes closed, I hardly noticed the horrendous drilling, filing and general carpentry going on in the workshop that was my mouth. Instead I found myself marveling at God ‘our Father’, with a name that was very ‘hallowed’, and so on. When I got to ‘thy kingdom come’, I felt like I could have gone on and on indefinitely; ‘thy kingdom come… into my life, Sonja’s life, our boys, then wider and wider outwards to, family, friends, neighbours, strangers, events and people in the news, even the dentist and his assistant!
Of all the lines, it was ‘give us this day our daily bread’, that I mulled over the most. For so many people, poverty is a gruelling, grinding, daily reality; they do not have enough daily bread because people in wealthy countries (like me) have too much and hoard too much rather than give it away. I think it all ties in well with ‘thy kingdom come’; in many ways the advancement (or not) of God’s kingdom is in some ways entirely up to us (a scary thought).
When I got home I was looking for a book on the shelves in the study when my eyes caught another book altogether – I had completely forgotten about it and it is one that I have never read since picking it up at a second-hand stall a number of years ago. It’s called “Praying the Lord’s Prayer” by Terry Virgo. In the chapter entitled Give us today our daily bread, he writes:
If God’s highest gift is his Son, what’s his most basic gift? Couldn’t it be ‘our daily bread’? The two are extremes. Surely God is telling us that if he’s willing to give us both the most precious and the most common things, he is more than wiling to supply us with everything in between.
Perhaps I realise now more than I ever did previously that EVERYTHING is a gift from God. It is easy to see eternal life as a gift (for what else could it be?) But what about every breath, every heartbeat, every person with whom we come into contact, each and every day, each meal, indeed everything in this world and in this life that is good being a gift from God? It is wonderful and liberating to know that none of the things I have are really mine anyway, they all belong to God, and I am learning (albeit slowly) that that really is the best way for it to be…