There is nothing to eat but the body of the Lord

The poet William Carlos Williams wrote the following lines, made famous by Wendell Berry:

There is nothing to eat

seek it where you will,

but the body of the Lord.

The blessed plants

and the sea, yield it

to the imagination

Intact.

Jesus said, “I am the true manna.”

Remember the Sunday School story about the manna given to the Israelites?

It kept them alive, the story goes, even in a wilderness where nothing could grow. But, of course, eventually, everyone of that generation died.

So what is Jesus saying here (John 6)? He’s promising that he’ll sustain his followers throughout their lives–and beyond–“ ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh’ ” (v. 51).

He’s speaking metaphorically, of course. But it’s more than a metaphor, too.

Earlier in that same chapter, Jesus took one little boy’s lunch, fed five thousand people with it, and had some left over.  It’s only after feeding a crowd of hungry people that he makes a spiritual point. The feeding comes first.


Every time you eat, you are practicing–or, better, celebrating–communion. The food you put in your mouth is a symbol of true sustenance. That doesn’t make it any less real. It makes it more real.

There is nothing to eat

seek it where you will,

but the body of the Lord.

And so enjoy it with gratitude!

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