Sharing with Sparrows

One loaf of sourdough, made only with sour starter–no commercial yeast

Mixed: 10:15 pm

Molded: 10:30 am next day

Baked: noon

Gave to Mustang and Leanne, and several sparrows–I’m sure the doggies got bites, too

I really wanted to give the loaf of sourdough to a man at a church that I normally see on Wednesdays. He’s in between homes, and I thought with the rain, it’d be nice to give him a warm loaf of bread. But he wasn’t at his usual spot, under the tarp, alone; the rain has changed all of our routines, and I was disappointed not to find who I was looking for.

This happens to me often… I think the bread is going in one direction and it ends up heading somewhere else. Maybe I need to plan better? Nah… these changes bring sparks of adventure. Adventure that I need in my life of carpooling and dishes and playing with blocks on rainy days.

While my son was in the atrium, learning about the Good Shepherd and singing songs with Miss Carla and Miss Kate, I sat in my warm car wondering what to do with the cooling loaf of sourdough. Then I saw him–a familiar homeless character who rides around Isla Vista on his high handle-barred bicycle. He has a wild grey mustache and beard, a few missing teeth, and I recognized him from Monday night dinners and other church-sponsored meals. I approached the van, where I found his wife talking to one of the two dogs they keep.

“Would you like a loaf of bread?” I asked. “I baked it this morning…”

“Sure, that’s so kind.”

I couldn’t keep my eyes from wandering around the packed van. A little Chihuahua dog was perched on a huge pile of stuff. Bags and bits of things hung everywhere. “You guys have a lot of stuff in here.”

“Yeah. Hey, thanks for the bread.”

“Of course. And my name’s Jane, by the way. You’re?”

“Leanne. And that’s Mustang.”

“Nice to meet you both. Enjoy the bread.”

I walked the twenty feet back to the car. It started to drizzle. I started to read. Then I stopped, and chided myself for thinking that what was in that van was A Lot of Stuff. Sure, just look at me and my thing-filled home. My twenty pairs of shoes, my corner cabinet full of china and crystal candlesticks… How many vans would I need just to hold the books and files out in my office?

Ten minutes later, I spied my bread, flying through the air, and onto the ground. Mustang was enjoying his own moment to share. He was pulling out the spongy crumb, just like my dad does–savoring the crust himself–and tossing the warm inner dough to the sparrows. At first I was a bit shocked as I watched that good bread fall to the wet and dirty ground. That was good bread! But I’d already learned this lesson, I reminded myself. The bread is theirs, not mine–my part of this small puzzle is done.

And besides, if I can share, why shouldn’t he have that same joy of giving? My mind shifted, and suddenly I was enjoying the scene completely.

Saints time and again throughout history have shared their meals with animals. Sts. Seraphim and Herman fed bears, treating them like beloved friends. St. Francis of Assisi tamed the wolf in Gubbio, making a pact with him as though he were a friend, entreating the people of the town to feed him like he was a proper member of their community. St. Jerome befriended a lion, removing thorns from his claws without fear for his own life, and then allowed him to stay in his own cell as one might keep a favorite dog. St. Brigid herself is known even today as a patron of flocks and herds. I thought it was so beautiful that Mustang turned directly toward those sparrows, wanting to give something so newly his, away.

If only I could hold onto things that way. With an open hand, with a hand ready to let go at any moment. Another good lesson learned from those struggling on the streets. Those who understand the spirit of Saint Brigid probably a lot better than I do…Thanks, Mustang…


3 thoughts on “Sharing with Sparrows

  1. Jane, I love your project and love your descriptions of its progress. You expressed so nicely in this post what we all struggle with: viewing things, people, circumstances with the “not mine” mindset. This sentiment really helps in all aspects of our life; to remember that things are “not ours”.

    I noticed you mentioned Francis of Assisi among the list of saints that fed animals. I was wondering if you had ever read this eye-opening article about him:
    It’s some food for thought.


    • Konstantina–no I had never read that article that contrasts the Catholic Saint Francis to our beloved Saint Seraphim of Sarov, nor have I studied Saint Francis or his faith in depth. I am aware of his stories only on a very shallow, basic level. I appreciate the link you posted and will leave it here for others to peruse. Thank you!

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