Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Posted on January 24, 2015 under Storytelling with one comment


Our daily bread



People are living longer.  Due to the marvels of modern medicine, many of us are also leading healthier and more active lives.  According to statistics, centenarians are among the fastest growing members of the population.  For most of us, living to the age of 80 while remaining sharp, fit and well would be an honorable goal.  But what if you worked in the same profession for 80 years?  Now that would be something to boast about.

The call to religious life in Nova Scotia was very strong sixty to seventy years ago, when joining a religious order was revered and, in many households, expected.  It was not uncommon to have at least one son called to the priesthood and a daughter seeking a spiritual journey as a nun.  It was a source of pride for the family and the community.  In many cases, young people went directly from high school to the seminary or the convent.  Families were large back then and after marriages, ordinations and final vows, there was still a spinster or bachelor living at home to look after Father and Mother in their dotage.

Consider the case of Sister C.  She joined the Congregation of Notre Dame when she was twenty, and recently celebrated her 100th birthday.  She devoted her life to her congregation and the countless lives she influenced along the way.  She had a variety of skills sets which she shared willingly.  Cooking wasn’t one of them.

It is not totally surprising for someone like her not to have picked up some cooking skills along life’s road.  But that’s the way it was when she found herself cooking a meal for the rector of a parish in small town Alberta many years ago.  They had known each other for a long time, and when she stopped by one day on his housekeeper’s day off, she offered to prepare supper for him.

And, what a meal it was.

She decided that a full roast beef dinner with all the trimmings would suitably impress Father Leo.  She busied herself with the preparations as he tended to his duties in the community.  He arrived home to wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen.  The dining room table was  fit for royalty, with a centerpiece, crisply pressed table cloth and matching napkins.

Candles were lit, grace was said and the meal commenced.  Sister C. had thought that a nice goblet of red wine might be appropriate.  Years earlier, on frequent trips across the border, she had seen friends and family members purchase wine and beer in grocery stores.  Such was not the case in Canada as she was soon to find out.  They toasted each other, wishing mutual good health.

Father Leo drank deeply and before the contents of the glass hit his stomach, he knew that something was terribly wrong.  His eyes watered slightly.  Sister C. expressed alarm and wondered if he had been stricken with some malady.  He politely asked her what brand of wine she had purchased.  She grabbed the bottle off the kitchen counter and brought it to the table.  He peered over his progressive lenses and read to himself: Aged Red Wine Vinegar.  He declined a second round as they moved on to the main course.

The presentation of the roast beef dinner would have impressed the folks at the Michelin Guide, who rate fine dining establishments.

Father Leo cut into the beef and made sure that it had a healthy dose of gravy.  Once again, he recoiled, resisting the urge to gag.  “Sister.  Did you put any flour in the gravy to thicken it?”  “Why, certainly, Father.  The bag is right over there on the counter.”  “His head spun around and his eyes became the size of saucers.  The other day he had been doing some home repairs in the kitchen.  He had filled some holes with Pollyfilla.  He had forgotten to put the bag back in the box.

Thankfully she had purchased dessert from a local bakery.

On a return trip years later, Sister C. offered to cook again.  Father Leo didn’t have the heart to say no. When she offered him some homemade bread as a starter, he quietly bowed his head, reciting the Lord’s Prayer.  When he came to the part that said “Give us this day our daily bread”, he lifted his eyes skyward and said quietly, “Only if it’s made with flour”.

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One Response to Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

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