By Rev Becky Brown
One Sunday afternoon last summer, I arrived home with a bag of left over communion bread from worship services that morning. Our daughter Caroline greeted me on the porch as I got out of the car. She was already wearing her pjs, had finished her lunch, and was ready for her Sunday afternoon nap. She saw the bag of Holy Hawaiian bread, and her face lit up. Our children know the secrets of the leftovers from the Communion table. They have heard time and again that once the bread and juice are blessed, they’re sacred. Sacred things so not go in the trash can. They must be consumed by God’s creation, or returned to the earth. As little creations themselves, they get excited about enjoying the leftovers, and recognize this task as an important way they can help with this sacrament.
On this particular Sunday, there was more bread than usual. Caroline excitedly pulled off a piece for her to enjoy. She asked if she could help responsibly dispose of the rest of the bag. With 3 children, I have learned to accept any and all help - especially from willing kiddos. So, I reminded her to break the bread apart and throw it in the woods in our side yard. We live in Iron Duff, so we have lots of wildlife and community dogs that walk through our woods. The bread is usually gone in no time. I left her to the task, and went inside to greet my younger sons and help get them into bed for naps. After quite some time, Caroline still hadn’t come back inside. So, I went to look for her in frustration. I had it in my mind that she had taken advantage of those moments of freedom. Surely she was swinging in the backyard, playing someplace that she wasn’t supposed to, and definitely evading and prolonging her nap time. I stormed out onto the porch in frustration - I was hungry for my lunch, I was tired, and was hoping to enjoy a nap myself. I found Caroline standing barefoot in the side yard with a large chunk of bread still in her hands. I sighed in frustration and asked her why he hadn’t come inside yet. It was nap time, she needed to hurry up.
She looked up at me with worried and concerned eyes. She sensed she was in trouble and was confused as to why. Once I got close to her, I realized she was engaged in her holy task and I had interrupted something sacred. She said to me, “Mommy, I’ve been breaking this bread into tiny pieces for the ants. I put the rest of the bread in the woods, but then I saw these ant mounds. I was worried the ants wouldn’t find the bread way over there, and the pieces were too big for them to carry. God loves the ants too, so I wanted to make sure they got some Jesus bread.” She was barefoot and leaning over a large ant mound, with several other ant mounds around her, and had been meticulously breaking off pieces of bread into ant sized bites. With each bite she broke off, she told the ants that God loved them. She was serving each of them communion as she had been served in worship earlier that day.
I was overcome with awe and regret. I regretted I had assumed the worst in her seemingly wayward behavior. I regretted I had approached her with frustration with a closed mind. I had failed to see the possibilities of what had been keeping her outside so long. I only saw how her behavior had been a tremendous inconvenience for me, until I heard her explanation. I will always remember those moments that Sunday afternoon. Caroline was willing to risk injury, risk getting in trouble, and was committed to the tedious task of breaking off microscopic pieces of bread - for ants. Ants that could have easily attacked her precious bare feet and sweet little legs for invading their space in the yard. Not one ant bit her, even though she was dangerously close to stepping on their home. It’s as if they were expressing their gratitude to her for the food and the message of God’s grace and love.