Yesterday was ‘food day’ at golf league – one of several times during the season that we finish off our matches with a simple meal and some fellowship. It turned into something of a salvific event for me – a chance to take the edge off an otherwise horrific round.
I won’t bore you with the details. But it was bad enough that I really didn’t look forward to the ‘19th hole’ at Aberdeen…where inevitably I’d be asked how I’d done out on the course. Fortunately, I’ve become adept at deflecting such questions whenever my golf-ego has been badly bruised (and needs a little time and space to heal). So I did manage to stick around for a bit…and before long, I began to notice how I was being blessed in the breaking of the bread.
There were no earth-shattering revelations. But the meal gave me a chance to thank one of my best friends in the league (and in life) for his spirit of service: He’d actually picked up the food from the deli on behalf of rest of us…and in the process, reminded me once again of the generous, reliable heart that beats inside him. I learned about another league-mate’s grandchildren – and their exploits in high school sports. Another friend told us about his trip to Augusta this week, to take in a practice round at The Masters. Still another friend grabbed a bite to eat and then split, because he had to retrieve his son from an after-school activity.
And through all the fellowship…in the meal we shared…I was reminded that ‘life happens,’ whether or not I manage to sink a putt or get a drive into the fairway on any given day.
Perhaps it happens, at least in part, to lift me up from the painful episodes I experience in life. To remind me that my story is just one small thread in a much larger tapestry. And to invite me back into community on those occasions when I’m feeling a little broken or bereft.
Today’s gospel reading provides John’s account of feeding the crowd with the loaves and fishes. In it, one apostle notes the impossibility of the task that Jesus proposes: ‘Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.’ And yet, on this occasion a little is enough – five barley loaves and two fish feed the multitude, just as the gaping hole in my spirit was fed yesterday by the chance to break bread.
Caryll Houselander writes about this phenomenon in The Risen Christ. ‘The ultimate miracle of Divine Love is this,’ she says, ‘that the life of the Risen Lord is given to us to give to one another…through the daily bread of our human love.’
It’s an amazing gift, this communion that we often have a chance to share. No wonder that – in other contexts –it’s called ‘eucharist’ … from the Greek word that means ‘thanksgiving.’