Saturday, February 9, 2008

Take This Bread by Sara Miles

My friend, Pastor Mark Strobel, recently recommended a book to me that I just managed to read. In fact, because of our blizzard today, I read it in one sitting this afternoon and was so taken with it, I had to share it with others I thought might appreciate it.

The book is Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, by Sara Miles. It is the story of Sara, an atheist lesbian who one day wandered into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and received Communion. With that reception, she was converted. She writes of the experience:

“…someone was putting a piece of fresh, crumbly bread in my hands, saying ‘the body of Christ,’ and handing me a goblet of sweet wine, saying ‘the blood of Christ,’ and then something outrageous and terrifying happened. Jesus happened to me.”

She goes on to write:

“…that impossible word, Jesus, lodged in me like a crumb. I said it over and over to myself, as if repetition would help me understand. I had no idea what it meant; I didn’t know what to do with it. But it was realer than any thought of mine, or even any subjective emotion: It was as real as the actual taste of the bread and the wine. And the word was indisputably in my body now, as if I’d swallowed a radioactive pellet that would outlive my own flesh.”

Miles summarizes her conversion and new faith thusly:

“Christianity wasn’t an argument I could win, or even resolves. It wasn’t a thesis. It was a mystery that I was finally willing to swallow.”

She goes on to write: “I was loved by a big love. In the midst of suffering, of hunger, even of death. Alleluia. What was, finally so hard about accepting that?”

Although some of Miles’ opinions and insights regarding the Church, the sacraments, liturgy, etc., might be considered a bit radical, they also provide a refreshing challenge to all of us in the Church. The book as a whole is compelling and deeply moving. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you get a change, get the book and read it.

Here’s a link to the book at Amazon:

Sara Miles also has a website:

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