“Tell us Papa! Tell us!”
“Okay my children. I will tell you the story once again so that you can pass it along to your children someday….When I was young…merely 12 grains in a mixing bowl…I had no thoughts of how my life would turn out. My excitement came from looking ahead to the unknown. One day I would nourish humans, which should be every young loaf’s goal, but how I would get there, and what important person I would feed were only dreams. These dreams got me through the hard times. Each time I was punched down I would think of being purchased by an important government official, or a famous artist. Maybe a scientist would need brain food, or an inventor would suddenly have renewed energy because of me someday. When I was kneaded I did not cry out, because I knew that every push and poke would be worth it. The times of rest seemed to take forever…waiting always does my children. However, I was patient and thought only of whom I would inspire to greatness. Even when I went into the oven, I told myself I would not die because I was destined to provide nutrients to some human of significance. I thought I had arrived when I finally slid into a fresh, clean bread bag with my name printed clearly on the side. I knew my 12 grains were hearty and full of good things. I was ready to face my future, which was so bright. I did not know it but my view was so very limited, until I was loaded into the bread truck.
Children, the bread truck is full of all different kinds of bread. My cousins, as it were. Some had fancy wrappers with many colors. Others had ingredients that made them sweeter and better tasting. I was intrigued, but also intimidated by all the choices of bread. I seemed so plain and boring in comparison. What I had known just hours before, that I was important, was now in doubt. Insecurity settled into me even further when I saw sweet breads of all kinds just across the aisle from my shelf. Doughnuts, muffins, and danishes taunted us by keeping count of how many of them were sold as compared to the bread. I found myself questioning my purpose and wondering how I could have ever been so naïve to think I could make a difference in the world.
This was a dark time for me children, and got even darker the day of the Great Winter. It was a day like none other…starting out the same as always, me with my cousins side by side on our shelf. Then without warning, crowds of frightened humans descended, slowly at first then in growing numbers until soon I began to get scared myself of this thing they kept calling ‘snow and ice.’ They grabbed and pushed. Their hands were not gentle. They did not take time to read labels. It was like they were in a crazed trance and we were their obsession. It was a nightmare really. I was shoved side to side. I was picked up and put back down until I became crushed because of all the handling. I was not even in the 12 grain spot anymore, but mixed in among the sourdough loaves. (Which by the way, were appropriately named since they were not too nice.) One by one, and then in groups at a time, my cousins were disappearing from the shelves. The colored wrappers went first, then the loaves with additions such as cinnamon, or blueberry. The realization hit me around noon that much of the 12 grain bread was still left on the shelf. From my view on the sourdough shelf I could see that ALL the other breads were shrinking in numbers. Some had even become extinct…in a matter of hours. In the frenzy I found myself afraid of the rough treatment, but I was even more afraid I would NOT be chosen. How embarrassing would that be? Me, the healthiest bread on the shelf, passed over for some flimsy, cheap, chemical infused, imitation flavored bread! Unthinkable, yet children it was exactly what was happening all around me. I tried to sit up straight and hold myself up high to no avail. By this time I was a crumpled mess to be honest, and couldn’t turn even one head my way. It wasn’t until all the other breads were gone that the 12 grains began to disappear. The faces of the humans expressed distain and some even debated if bread was really necessary since all that was left was 12 grain. I was appalled at this reaction, because I knew I had much to offer. Each hand that picked me up only to shove me back upon the shelf, made my frustration grow. Soon I was the only loaf left. One lonely loaf. I forgot about waiting for some important person to choose me. I wanted any person to choose me to save me from my humiliation. The grocer even had pity on me, marking me down to half price due to my squashed appearance.
As I sat on the shelf waiting, my life flashed before my eyes. So much hope for the future when I was first starting out. My dreams of greatness dashed and crumbled in a few short hours. I was having a pity party children, and I am not too proud to admit it. I was broken and humbled. It no longer mattered who choose me. I sat in despair on that shelf all alone. Soon a small human reached out to me, he dragged me off the shelf and carried me to his mother.
“Look mommy. There is a loaf left!”
“No dear. We are not here to buy…we are only here to get warm.”
“But please mommy. I am so hungry.”
“I do not even have enough money for one loaf of bread.”
“Not even one that’s marked down?”
“Hand it here son. It is nearly torn apart already, but it is healthy bread to be sure. And it is marked down. I think I have just enough to buy it! God has provided once again! We will have a feast tonight!”
And so my children, that is how I came to be here in this small home. The boy and his mother have cherished me greatly. I have given them as much nourishment as I can, but I am nearing the end of my life. Listen to my words…when you are mixed in the bowl, and you are pushed and kneaded, remember my lessons. Tell my story. It does not matter if you are plain, or even if you get a wrapper at all. You have good and healthy nutrients packed within you, so stand tall and give your life away knowing it does not matter who gets you…because ALL humans need the life you offer.”