Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life
Review by Karen Ball on 2005-06-16
"During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, 'Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.'" This powerful opening page immediately pulled me into this wonderfully written and illustrated book. It could easily be read in a single sitting, but the content is so rich, I didn't want to. I wanted to stretch the reading over at least a week. The theme of the book is "What gives us life?" The Linns use this book to introduce the reader to the prayer of examen: For what moment today am I most grateful (or when did I give and receive the most love today or when did I feel the most alive); for what moment today am I least grateful (or when did I give and receive the least love or when did I most feel life draining out of me). No matter how they are phrased, the underlying questions are: when did I feel the most consolation and when did I feel the most desolation? Through wonderful examples of their own lives, they explore how each of us can daily discover what they call "our sealed orders" from God. Normally I have a problem with the idea that God has one single plan for each of us and if we don't find it, we're lost. But they say that although they think there is one "set of orders," our understanding of them changes over time. And ultimately what we are each meant to be is more like Jesus. God wants us to have more of what gives us life (consolation) and to recognize our unmet needs (desolation) so that we can learn from them. The book ends with a story about the theologian Viktor Frankl, who describes his childhood in a concentration camp, telling of some prisoners who gave away their last piece of bread to one of the children to keep them alive. He say, "They may have been few in number. . . but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of his freedoms-to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."