Breaking Bread Together
Evening rises from the hills and a few friends gather before dusk at a California river near the Fellowship property of Apollo. Fresh-baked bread is brought, and watermelon, cheese, and olives. A rite of friendship and communion: breaking the bread.
Each moment is broken to make way for the next. The light falls on the river. That light dies away and another is lit: a candle on the cloth stretched over the sand. The effort to be present is brought to the lips, and the moment is crushed, eaten. Then it disappears. Each moment is nourishing, each is food.
with our remembering. – Bahauddin
A glass of wine is upset on the sand—a shock reminding us that nothing lasts. We renew the effort to drink the moment before us, before it, too, shall pass. What survives from moment to moment?
To be in this moment and survive it, we divide our attention. We locate ourselves, our attention, and remain aware of ourselves while aware of what we are seeing, feeling, hearing. Where are our feet and how are we sitting? What expression do our faces wear? We hold this thread with two ends: the feeling of self and the awareness of what surrounds that self. What is here? The quiet river, faces lit by candlelight, by starlight, now threaded to the attention of seeing it, of feeling ourselves here to see it.
To unite the attention and the mind within your heart, and remain there unceasingly….
- Theophan the Recluse
And the candle becomes a fixed point from which the two ends of the thread can continue to be felt. Any object can be chosen: an external object or an inner one. Certain emotions arise that can be used like the candle is used, as the dividing point for our attention—such as gratitude to be here, in this moment.
We consume the moment, this higher bread, with attention. With attention, a finer food enters in at the eye. With this food of attention, we pick our way, accepting the morsel of each moment as it arrives.
Now the stars emerge. They shed a different kind of light, above the play of personal forces, above even this sacred effort to hold the thread of light, of attention. Now we can divide our attention three ways: between what we are, what we see and feel, and what contains both those elements within itself. Now what sees—what makes this effort—becomes less important, and the identity even of the “divider of attention” drops away to make room for a higher world. Everything changes. Dropping ourselves, we sense the play of higher laws above and around us. Great cosmic laws—including the law of octaves and intervals, of triads and their interwoven forces—infuse our evening, permeate each moment. What is our role in this great theater, with this level of awareness? To serve the higher. And how do we serve? By meeting the needs of the moment as they arise. All work on attention leads to this point at last.
Above the river, among the dynamics of this cosmic supper, we have a new understanding. What is this bread set before us? And who does it nourish?