EmilyI am on my knees on the floor in the kitchen of the pastor’s house. 160 pounds of dough are resting on the porch and the last 20 pounds are before me. I bow over the bowl with both arms submerged to my elbows, my fingers working tirelessly to evenly combine the flour, water, salt, and yeast. In this moment, I am struck by my own humanity before God.

I have assumed this position numerous times this summer, although seldom conscious that in this action I am bowing towards the giver of life. I work at Potter Hill Farm, trading my labor for fresh, organic veggies that will feed the people worshiping at Simple Church. When the day of transplanting, seeding, and weeding begins I am usually on my feet, bending towards the earth to reach the object of my attention. But as the hours drag on, my body demands that I find rest for my back and legs. Eventually I am squatting by the rows of greens, then kneeling, and eventually sitting cross-legged in the same dirt that nourishes the beets, turnips, squash, and kale. I bend forward to tend the veggies that will feed people, sitting on the same dirt that the zucchinis and I are made of.

Moses took off his shoes because he was on holy ground, Job collapsed before God in worship after calamity befell him and his family, Ruth bent as she gleaned the field, and the widow that Elijah visited looked down at her last loaf of bread. Each of these characters in the Old Testament narrative bowed before that which they depended on for life. In this action, I wonder if there is really more connection than we first see between nourishing our bodies with food and nourishing our souls and minds with prayer and doctrine. God created our bodies, after all. As a pastor, the role of feeding people can take quite a literal meaning. At Simple Church, I am practicing ministry by feeding people. I bake bread to meet people in the community, I farm to nourish the people who come to worship, and I preach to invite people into their lived humanity with each other and with God.

The Genesis narrative tells us that we were created to till and keep the earth. One early morning on the farm, I paused to listen to the life that was before me. Birds chirped, chickens squawked, and pigs rustled. Mist enveloped the earth, ever so slightly dampening every surface. As the sun rose in the sky, I sat on the dirt seeding carrots. This menial task will eventually feed children of God. This work is Holy.

We are called to be human. Nothing else. In our humanity before God, all else is at rest. Our bodies need physical food just as our spirits are dependent on God. It is fitting that falling prostrate before God in humility and dependence is the same position assumed when tenuously weeding the tomatoes, lifting rocks from the fertile earth, and transplanting baby onions to their new home in the field. Like mixing the dough for bread, these actions produce the substance necessary for life.

The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. As Christians, we seek to follow that way. This summer, I have learned that sometimes following that way can be as simple as feeding people. After all, Jesus fed people, at least four to five thousand a couple of times. Living into my humanity through the work of my hands, I am reminded that instead of needing to be everything or do everything or know everything just right, the simple task of mixing dough for bread is enough.