daily bread

March 1st, 2010

Banana Bread by Tracey Clark

Give us this day our daily bread.

When I was a little girl and recited that line of the Lord’s Prayer, I always took notice. Suddenly, my religion had given me something I could see, touch and taste. Something I experienced everyday, scuffed with butter and dabbed with jelly. The other things I’d learned to say in church were in a dusty, lost language. For a moment at least, my Wonder Bread filled me with wonder, a gift descended from the invisible heights of heaven.

I was not wrong, as a child. Children do not err or misperceive. Bread is all this and more. It was only later, my sight dimmed by cynicism and self-absorption, when I began to search for more than my daily bread. I began to do what all of us do, and urge one another to do: go someplace else. Dream, lust, wish, follow, journey, uncover, trudge, and wallow. Overlook the bread, and find your bliss. It must be somewhere, the fulfillment we seek, hidden in something bigger than a breadbox.

It seems to me we spend nearly the whole of our lives overlooking the obvious: debasing the ordinary and idealizing the unattainable. I’m damn tired of it, aren’t you? Why don’t you sit down and have a slice of bread? Have a pair of pants and shoes, a blanket, a sky, a blue jay, the back of an envelope. Have your work, and just do it. Have a neighbor, and say hello. Have a night’s rest, and a day after. Have a smile, a cough, a burp. Blow your nose. Pay your bills. Fold the towels and match the socks.

The story of Buddha’s enlightenment goes something like this. Tired of the same kind of search you’re on, he sat down under a tree, and he didn’t get up. He sat there, night and day, until he resolved the whole breadbox question for himself.  On the morning of the eighth day he looked up and saw the morning star. He said, “I, the great earth and all beings simultaneously attain the Way!” It was an expression of awe and astonishment. What if you suddenly saw through all your fear and doubt, your restless craziness and realized that you already possessed everything you were so desperately looking for?

He didn’t see something invisible. He saw something that he’d overlooked all his life. You might say he saw the bread in the daily. And of course, we can too.

This entire diatribe is a way of introducing you to the photographer for this site, Tracey Clark, who is also the founder of Shutter Sisters. She practices mindfulness through the lens of her camera. She practices paying attention to the things we most easily overlook. I don’t doubt her, and neither will you, when you see the fullness she captures in a half-empty bowl of cereal, for example, or the halo she conjures from the top crust of banana bread. Tracey is leading an online workshop called Picture Spring that starts in April. A pair of eyes and any old camera is all that’s required, and Tracey will help you see your life in a completely new light. I can’t wait for you to see the whole of it.

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  1. It seems to me we spend nearly the whole of our lives overlooking the obvious: debasing the ordinary and idealizing the unattainable.

    Yes. Thank you, again, for gently and persistently tugging me back to the sheer glory of my ordinary life.

    Comment by Lindsey — March 1, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  2. Sheer, translucent, shimmering glory: you are.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 1, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  3. You are bad to the bone! I love how you weaved the threads of this story into a nice package. Excellent writing.

    Comment by Lu — March 1, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

  4. Lovely.

    Comment by Cathy — March 1, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

  5. So simple, beautiful, true. Thank you!

    Comment by Jane — March 2, 2010 @ 1:46 am

  6. your words. tracey’s photographs. healing bliss.

    Comment by melissa — March 2, 2010 @ 1:42 pm

  7. This rings so true to me right now. I’ve recently woken up the fact that it’s *fine* for my daughter to be ordinary. Although it was fairly unconscious, I was pushing her to “succeed” by being special and better. I’ve finally vowed to just let her be, stop the comparisons, only push if I really have to. It’s just so easy to get caught up in the race, and bring your children along as well – such a cultural norm. Now if I can only remember consistently.

    Comment by janet — March 2, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  8. It might help you to know, Janet, that in the Zen language, “ordinary” refers to enlightenment, the profound realization that only our judgment keeps us from experiencing the truth of our lives as they are. The truth is, none of us can ever be anyone but ourselves, and who that is is constantly changing, growing and developing by itself. It is the ultimate kindness to befriend one another along the way. Otherwise, the path is perilous indeed, because even your mother acts like a mortal enemy.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 2, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  9. Yes, and trains her to be her own mortal enemy. That’s what has really shaken me. I feel like I’m finally getting it, but I think I will paste this on my forehead so I don’t forget.

    Comment by janet — March 2, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

  10. So simply perfect. Ironically, I found this being today – just driving, doing laundry, taking the kids to the park (instead of staying cooped up in the house like we usually do), reading. That balance I long for on other days just seemed to happen.

    How difficult it is to stop grasping!

    Comment by Lisa — March 3, 2010 @ 2:28 am

  11. What if you suddenly saw through all your fear and doubt, your restless craziness and realized that you already possessed everything you were so desperately looking for? – My goodness this is powerfully true!

    Comment by Christine LaRocque — March 3, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

  12. Your new Web site is so lovely. I’ll have to check out the photography class…

    Comment by Mary Ann — March 3, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

  13. Mary Ann, I’m so glad to see you made it over.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — March 3, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  14. I had a friend who shared a story with me… As a child, in church, whenever the the pastor said, “Almighty God” she heard “Oh Mighty Dog!” which was the brand of dog-food her dog ate.

    She knew her dog was holy.

    Comment by Stacy (Mama-Om) — March 4, 2010 @ 4:05 am

  15. Hmmm, I saw that bread and wanted the recipe! But that would be a different blog. Still, there’s something I can’t put into coherent words (and I’ve been mulling it since the post came out) about how most people buy their bread in stores these days, can’t bake at all. I try to bake but need a recipe, don’t have the feel for it yet. So many things we don’t do for ourselves, that we have lost touch with, that we would probably benefit from doing, from trying, even if it’s “just” sitting.

    Comment by J, Connecticut — March 4, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  16. […] Maezen Miller’s thoughtful reflection “Daily Bread” reminds us to appreciate the ordinary, the everyday, the routine. Her delightful post […]

    Pingback by Casual Friday: Reads of the Week « Eva Evolving — March 5, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

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