Behind the bread is the flour,
behind the flour is the mill,
behind the mill is the rain and the sun and the Maker's will.
Behind the bread and the rain and the sun is the Maker's will.
God charges us with stewardship of creation, with land a particular point for our care. Whether expanses of commercial farm, a city backyard plot, community garden or a multi-generational 40 acres, humans need to know about seeds and soil and cycles, to control what they plant, where they plant, when they plant. Humans need to learn what crops grow well beside other crops. Famers need to know about soil nutrients, fertilizers and fallowing.
Land-grant colleges and universities in this country originally began as agriculture schools because most of the country was rural; as the USA became more urban, the schools expanded and changed their curriculum, yet many still are outstanding places for aspiring farmers to learn more about the trade, craft, and art of working the land God lends us. Whether you plant and harvest your own garden, the neighborhood garden around the corner, or you care for farmland that stretches way over beyond the horizon, you need to track typical and extraordinary weather patterns in order to maintain that humanly possible modicum of control over the harvest.
Behind the bread on my kitchen table, behind the bread on our communion table, we find farmers who plan, plant, and harvest. Millers who turn grain into flour. Bakers who mix and shape dough into loaves. Behind the baker and the mill, in the sky over the land, sun and rain – and also the land itself – are gifts from God no human effort can duplicate, equal, or replace. The loaf of bread is a product of divine-human partnership; we plan and wait, pray and hope, but ultimately the bread is out of our control—in the end, the outcome is sheer gift!
In Saxon England, the lord provided the loaf, the sustenance for the people.