In ancient times, the term “Breaking Bread” literally meant the tearing/breaking apart of a loaf of bread, which was a staple, with one’s hands in order to share with friends & family. Jesus broke bread with His disciples at the Last Supper, giving the term a deeper, spiritual significance. In modern day, the term simply signifies dining together. I like to think of it as more than taking a meal together, but also the SHARING of something significant. Today, I ate my good tasting breakfast of a waffle & bacon at a local diner, with some of the most professional real estate agents in town, my colleagues. I got to hear a songwriter, who has penned lyrics & music for some big names in the music industry over the years, tell about how he listens to everyone’s story, & that this is often the inspiration for his songs. We shared the observation that each & every person has a story worth sharing, although many do not have the emotional capacity or ability to articulate it themselves.
At lunch, I literally broke a small loaf of deliciously seasoned bread with my own hands, & a business associate & I dipped pieces of it into oil at a good Italian restaurant. I enjoyed delicious vegetable lasagna while hearing a motivational speaker’s advice on how to deal with difficult people. I appreciated her acknowledgement that she has, at times, been one of the “difficult people.” Haven’t we all? After we partook of the meal, we separated into pairs, where we were instructed to find out three things about the other person’s business to present back to the group. I shared a touching, poignant moment with the young lady that I was coupled with, when, as I described to her that oftentimes the sale of residential real estate is precipitated by a life changing event, such as death, divorce, birth or illness. Though we only got to speak for a total of ten minutes, I felt I knew her as well as I would ever need to do when she made direct eye contact with me as I recounted the story of how I once held the hands of an elderly man in mine as he wept & told me that he did not want to sell his home, but had no choice due to failing health. As my own voice cracked a tad at the remembrance of this event, her eyes matched mine with tears that we checked behind tight smiles of professionalism. Indeed, we broke more than bread at that meeting today.
Finally, this evening, my son & I met some friends at a local pizzeria for pizza which was covered in so much gooey cheese that the term “breaking” it could scarcely be applied. Though the conversation was at times stilted due to the fact that the participants do not really know each other, there was something wonderfully comforting in sharing an ordinary meal at the end of the work day with people that I care so much about. One of them spoke about a wistful experience they had as a child, & while this may not be the most upbeat dinner table topic, it nonetheless was sharing at a basic level that would not have happened, had there not been the coming together & breaking of bread.
Each time we stop to converse at a meal table, we are sharing more than food. The topic of conversation might be as simple as the weather report, as fascinating as a new scientific break-through, as mundane as the latest homework assignment, or as complex as the psychology of a relationship. Whatever the case may be, the coming together of pairs & groups of people to eat & talk is many centuries old. I have always felt sorry for the couples I see out in public venues, staring mournfully at their food, & eating in silence without so much as making eye contact with one another. I have often thought about how very boring that sort of relationship must be.
There are so many things that take place in a twenty-four hour period, so many thoughts, ideas, & feelings within every single human being that I think it must be quite uncomfortable for someone to keep them all bottled up inside themselves, with no one to share them. I think that would indeed be a lonely existence.
As for me, I greatly enjoy breaking bread with family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, & sometimes even strangers, as that is an opportunity for me to glimpse a peek into who they really are, what their needs may be, & what makes them tick. Even getting together for a cup of coffee enables one to make a connection that might otherwise never have been formed.
Breaking bread & sharing one’s resources, food, insights, & expertise is one of life’s most basic experiences. Today I broke bread with three different groups of people, & the insights I gained in each setting were invaluable. Lord, may I glean a bit of wisdom from every nugget of truth uncovered, that the opportunities presented shall not go unappreciated. When you next dine with someone, will you just eat, or will you “break bread” & share of yourself with them?