Reflections at the end of the day on faith, tea, and love.

Reflections at the end of the day on faith, tea, and love.

It’s one of those nights. Supper was thirty minutes late, so I had to skip eating in order to put the baby to sleep. Now I’m sitting alone in the late evening over a slice of buttered barley bread and a mug of mint verbena tea. The steam from the tea rises up beside the beeswax candle I’ve set on the table in order to see my food. My laptop screen is dimmed to one dot. A few feet away, another beeswax candle illuminates the icons in the family prayer area. Tea steam floats between me and Jesus’ face.

And suddenly, I’m grateful that I couldn’t find the rice pot earlier. I’m glad to be here with my homemade wheat-free bread and the scent of warm wax and hot mint.

It’s been a month since I found out that the culprit behind the daily hives, occasional numb mouth and swollen throat, dramatic mood swings and intense bouts of mental darkness was wheat. I’ve had a month to learn to avoid a food I ate my whole life until it started trying to kill me. I know how to use my Epi-pens. I know how to get enough calories for a nursing mother. I know that I don’t miss the bouts of crippling doubt and self-loathing and confusion and anxiety. I know that I’m so happy and glad to be the calm mom that I was starting to fear was gone in those few terrible weeks between the onset of the allergy and diagnosis.

And I know something else, deeper than ever before: Jesus is the bread of life. Without the easy camaraderie of wheat, food looks different. Is it life-giving, or could it kill me? And not eating –particularly not eating foods that could harm me — looks different. I look at the still-full bin of wheat flour, refilled just a day before I learned what was hurting me, and my relieved heart beats, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I couldn’t tell you exactly where the Bible says that; it was stored away in my memory bones a few translations back. But I know it speaks to me right now, here with my candles and tea and bread that doesn’t hurt me, and the family portrait gallery of holiness.

This Bread heals. The steam rises, the flames dance, and I’m glad to be here.