9. Fresh Bread

The monk was awake, making a cup of coffee over his fire, when a knock came to the door. It was a fellow monk from the monastery in the valley bellow, delivering his bread for the next few days. After knocking, he said “Give us this day our daily bread,” placed the wrapped bread on the ground outside the door, took up his basket, and moved on to the next hermitage. The monk moved the coffee pot off the fire, went to the door, opened it, and brought in the bread. It was still warm from the oven, the fragrance reminding him of times past when his mother would bake bread for the week on a Monday, and always cut a slice for the monk and his brother. The monk recalled the flavor of melting butter and cinnamon, the texture of the warm inner bread, the crispness and the sound of biting into the crust.

He placed the bread into a cupboard, now having food for the next three days. He took a knife, cut a single end from one of the loaves, and ate it with his morning coffee. He looked out of his hermitage into the valley, prayed for the monk who baked the bread, the monk who cut the wood for the oven, the farmers who grew the wheat, milled it, brought it to the monastery.

He remembered drawing water from the well and drinking the cold water, the feeling of that cold water hitting his stomach, the comfort against the heat of the day.

He remembered the coolness of his cell, the warmth of singing in chapel the hours of the day, his friends, the abbot.

He remembered the cat, the white streak that would rub itself on the legs of the monks in the dining room at meal time. He remembered giving the cat food under the table, moments seated in the library when the cat would sit warm on his knee, purr under his hand.

He remembered the purpose for his retreat, his going out into the desert. He remembered that there were small comforts in his hermitage, but only small.

He returned to prayer to give thanks.

9. Fresh Bread

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