"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Daily Bread

The topic of security keeps arising in my life.

Today at Inner Light, Reverend Deborah Johnson brought up the phrase, "Give us this day our daily bread."  What is daily bread?  I am doubtful it means a baguette on your table each day.  (Although - baguettes, yum. . .)  She suggested daily bread means what we need to be sustained each day.

(Photo: cookaround.com)
She told the story in Exodus when god dropped manna from the sky to feed the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness.  There was only enough for one day at a time.  If they tried to collect extra for the next day, it spoiled.

At times on my own journey through the "wilderness" this year (aka the U.S.), I have felt like the Israelites.  I'm mostly happy about my decision, and I usually trust that everything will work out, but sometimes I doubt.  The "manna" has continued to appear for me each day.  It may come in the form of safe accommodation, nourishing food, enriching company, or spiritual community.  So why do I still worry that it will stop?

Probably because it annoyingly comes in little, tiny bits at a time.

I mean, it'd be nice if sometimes god sent like a month's worth of manna so I could store it in the freezer and say, "Phew!  Glad this month is taken care of!"  But just like the Israelites, each time I try to "collect more manna" - to plan too far into the future - my plans spoil.  I hear the small voice inside me saying, Be here on THIS day.  Eat the food you have for THIS meal.  Sleep in the bed you have on THIS night.  And trust that more will come tomorrow.

Argh!  What an AFGO.  (Another F-ing Growth Opportunity.)

Yet, have I ever gone without?  No.  The only time I truly suffered was when I worried about going without.

Ohmygod Ohmygod what if I run out of money?  What if I have no place to stay?  What if someone finds me in my car in the middle of the night and rapes me?  What if my car breaks down?  What if I get lonely and can't find friends?  What if I can never afford the tattoo I've been wanting?

And then, nearly in the next breath - Oh.  Well that turned out just fine.  (Except for the tattoo thing - I still can't afford that.  Damn.)

So, security.  What is it, then?  Where does it come from?

(Photo: money.msn.com)

Right about now I'm tempted to think it comes from a fat, steady paycheck and health insurance - things I haven't had in awhile.  Sometimes when I don't understand things about humans, I look to the animal world and ask how the rest of the creatures do it.

What other living things have assurance that all is always well, secure, and promised?  What armadillo in the world depends on a paycheck?  Show me a swan who has health insurance, a gecko with a retirement account, or a giraffe with social security.  

These things only give us security until they don't.  At best, they give us a distracting illusion.  At worse, not only do they fail to give us true security, they may actually prevent us from finding it.

Two quotes come to mind:

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"  - Matthew 6:26-27, the Bible

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.” - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Allowing myself to live like "the birds of the air," means that sometimes being provided for will look like abundance, and sometimes it will look like barely basic survival.  And eventually, it will look like death.  Because that's how all of nature works, and I am not exempt.

But I would rather live in the wide open truth of daily, divine providence than behind the long-term illusion of institutional security.  So, give me this day my daily bread, and I will eat of it gratefully.

(Photo: cartinafinland.fi)
UPDATED: Upon re-reading this the day after I posted, I hear a judgmental tone, which was not my intention.  To be clear, I do not stand in judgement of anyone who currently receives a paycheck or has health insurance or a retirement account!  The life I am leading is not superior to yours.  Now that I don't have those things, I see how I was lulled into complacency before when I did, and I appreciate how I am forced to rely solely on divine providence now.  K, that's it.  Thanks.

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  1. I just found your blog and I am sort of blown away by how close our circumstances are. Sort of.

    I lost my job and then housing (2x) and ended up driving across the country to stay with relatives. And then that didn't work out. At all.

    So I went North a bit and found a temp. place, but still somewhat up in the air.

    At the moment, things are so insecure that I wouldn't mind a fat, steady paycheck. ;) And health insurance would be nice as well. (I just broke my toe ... reminding me that if it had been my foot, I'd have been in trouble.)

    It wasn't my foot.

    But I'm still not sure how to get to what I'm hoping for. I know I'm not there as yet. Maybe it's a bit different because you choose and I got pushed in to it? Hmm. I may end up needing a whole post for that, rather than any more hijacking of your comments. :) At any rate, nice to meet you.

  2. Well hello, Em. Comment hijacking is always welcome! Although it does sound like you have some good material for a post, or a whole blog.

    Fascinating. So how are you finding the day-to-day providence? Obviously there are stresses. Have you found any of the joys?

    And where are you now? Where's "north?"

  3. Ack. Lost my comment. Will try again. :)

    I do find day-to-day providence, but not every day. ;) There are some pretty amazing things that have happened, though. And some good things. And some great things. And many joys. And some aha, I was supposed to be here, connecting with this person, doing this right now. In the worst of it, I had back to back experiences like that. It was .... amazing.

    I had started off (ready, you'll find this a bit wild, I suspect) in California. I headed to Maryland, where I had my housing option fall through. Then I got back in the car and sort of went north on a whim (and due to the possibility of getting work at some point and it was where I'd attempted to go a couple of years ago...many reasons, actually.) I am in Massachusetts now. If I can't stay here? We'll see. I'm trying to be very connected to a sort of openness ... an I'll end up where I end up kind of headspace.

    I'm generally an optimist and pretty good at change. So it's been terrifying and illuminating and horrible and joyful and difficult and so wondrous it spins me around. And I feel pretty sure you get that 100%. :)

  4. Yep. I get it. This sort of lifestyle can really test an optimist/lover of change's limits, for sure.

    So you did my journey in reverse!

    You're TRYING to be connected to a sort of openness? You know what Yoda says, my dear - "There is no try, only do or do not." ;) You ARE connected. You are connected right now or you wouldn't be where you are, and you wouldn't be drawn to a blog like mine.

    Many, many blessings to you on this holiday. Cheers to not ever knowing what the hell is going on, and to the beauty of life always showing up just in time.