Wild Bread By Karen Spruill

Photo: Dreamstime
We walk our dog every day and often try to find a place where it’s safe for him to go off-leash for awhile. Teddy loves to ramble beside us, occasionally chasing squirrels and savoring the outdoor smorgasbord of smells. And he has a long-term smell memory. He loves the sidewalk gutter, or places where he has previously discovered bits of chicken bones, bread crumbs, dead fish, or other disgusting refuse. These are dog delicacies. Our canine companion will risk freedom and a peaceful colon to find and return to places that have offered garbage. “He found something over there weeks ago,” my husband will comment when we see him race off to a spot. I have called him, grabbed him, forced open his mouth to retrieve those unknown and potentially sickening dog treasures. Once he ran into the road in front of a vehicle because he remembered or smelled a tidbit there on the asphalt. One would think that there is nothing finer than stale bread, old bones, or candy wrappers.

We feed our dog every day — sometimes twice per day. I make sure that he gets good quality dog food, and not too much. Sometimes he even gets a bit of human meal protein scraps, or a teaspoon of peanut butter. He knows that we are suckers for a doggie treat, especially when we leave the house. We have even offered him a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a dog biscuit when he is along for a stop at a favorite ice cream establishment. This dog is loved and never lacking for food.

Yet our dog is a dog to his very genetic roots. He will return again and again to those sites where he found something that might be half-rotten, moldy, or decomposing. He consumes discarded bread as though it were his last meal. “Wild bread,” is what we now call his off-leash dining. It seems to be preferable to anything that exists at home in his food dish.

Dog habits are not that unlike those of humans. To fill an insatiable internal hunger, we often race to the gutters, and consume mental, spiritual, relational, and physical garbage. Sometimes we get sick or hurt, and yet we will return to those places. We might even be proud to scavange our own snacks while healthy nourishment is waiting for us at home or in community.

In John 6: 35-58, Jesus proclaims, “I am the bread of life.” God provided daily manna to the Children of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness. They complained and begged for something more delectable. They suffered through alliances with pagan spouses and rulers. They lost their way, chasing “wild bread,” and unsustainable nourishment. Later Jesus appeared and reminded people, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” (Jn. 6:51 NIV).

I want to remember Jesus’ words next time I call my dog. Teddy will continue to chase “wild bread,” as long as he is given freedom — yet he rides homes with me and I love him.

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. Honestly look at your life and identify those places where you are prone to chase “wild bread.”

2. What does it mean to you to eat the bread that Jesus offers us?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida. All rights reserved © 2011 AnswersForMe.org. Click here for content usage information.

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