All Bread must be Broken

Broken Bread by Monica Huffer

Irish poet, Pádraig Ó Tuama said he used to think that poetry was about describing the transcendent – the things you couldn’t put your hands on. But these days he is more interested in poems that pay attention to the things you can put your hands on, and not trying to capture them. Rather in trying to pay attention to them and to be beheld by them, as you behold them. He then points to Margaret Atwood’s poem “All Bread“:

All bread must be broken
so it can be shared. Together
we eat this earth.

This poem exposes the eternal truth that we can only run into the One from whom we run away: her couplet betrays a transcendent truth as earthy as bread, as ordinary as tap water, and as true as the need to be broken in order to share – to give and receive.

How have you been broken, and what has this done for you to be a generous donor and receiver?

It fascinates me that our word “companion” means to “come with bread” – the idea that we share our bread – and whatever else we have to give – in the context of receiving from others who have come to share as well.

To read Atwood’s full poem see “All Bread.”

To read about Atwood’s perspective on “religion” see “Eco-Christianity.” As her poem alludes:

We can’t take care of people while we steadily degrade the land upon which their bodies depend.

Of course this is only part of the mystic story, for as Jesus said,

Mankind does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.


About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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2 Responses to All Bread must be Broken

  1. I’m very touched by this thought of sharing this but not capture it! I love Margaret Atwood! Many thanks for this post:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the act of sharing our posts is a way of releasing (and not capturing – or – imprisoning) any wisdom and beauty we may find along the way. As you know, English is a cacophony of languages including German and Latin; I wonder how the German word for “companion” (from the Latin) relates to this idea of “coming with bread”? Since I am a first generation Canadian of German descent, I can still read my German Bible and am impressed with how German (like other languages) can give me a unique turn of phrase or different perspective on words. Thanks for your note.


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