The Bread and Butter of Friendship

“Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”

I baked bread in the evening for my family. It didn’t finish cooling until just before I went to sleep, so I was standing in the kitchen in my robe and slippers at 10:15 packaging bread into bags. Of the four loaves, I would put three in the freezer and keep one out for making school lunches in the morning. My friend M came to mind. I was going to her house the next day and the thought came that I could bring a loaf to her.breadandbutter.jpg

But another thought came into my mind, disagreeing with this one. “No, that’s not necessary. Besides, then you would need to make bread, again, sooner,” it said. This mental flip flop consistently occurs as I make choices, even though I usually always end up following the thought that inspired my ideas in the first place.

Finally, I quieted the contradictory thoughts in my head and just set aside a loaf for her, reasoning, “Even if there was no reason to bring one, everyone likes to be remembered. I can make bread again soon.”

I had tightly scheduled the next day, especially in the afternoon, with some returns to make, the visit to M’s, children to pick up and a stop at the grocery store. Normally, at the end of days like these I am worn out and feel depleted. However, that morning, I found time to prepare myself for later. My youngest sister called unexpectedly, but I was able to make dinner ahead during her call, saving myself the work after I got home in the afternoon.

I arrived at M’s house right on time and rang the doorbell. Her children let me in, and I quickly realized that she was sick. She had been sleeping and seemed feverish to the touch when I hugged her. Although she was embarrassed to be “caught”, she settled herself into a big chair and wrapped up in blankets with a slice of the bread, some butter and a cup of herb tea. We had a wonderful heartfelt conversation like true friends.

Had the bread been necessary for all that? No, but it created a setting for both of us to recognize the core of friendship: generosity of self and spirit.

Generosity prompts us to cheer for a friend who gets to take a nap (or has any success, even if we aren’t currently having one). It is seeing beauty in each other even when we are rumpled. Generosity closes our eyes to the crumbs on the counter or dirty dishes and opens them to the joy of being in a friend’s home. It freely allows us to not think less of each other (or not retain feelings of embarrassment for our humanity and imperfection). Generosity opens our mouth to uplift and encourage. Most of all, generosity overcomes our thoughts of self.

Thank you, M; you helped me answer the question this day.

Generous: adj. 1. Liberal in giving or sharing. 2. Characterized by nobility and forbearance in thought or behavior; magnanimous. 3. Marked by abundance; ample.

1 Comment

  1. Minna
    Jan 19, 2008

    Very inspiring! I have found myself listening to that “contradictory” voice too many times.
    Thanks for sharing!

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