Heaven and earth collided the other night in our garden.
And there were lots of beautiful roses. They laced their way through mounds of bread that was freshly baked. Bread that would be broken.
The gathering was called Bread and Roses. White and pink roses cascaded down crisp white linen that stretched through the garden like a seamless garment.
Around the extended table sat 50 eclectic Tacoma folks. These good-hearted people came to support St. Leo Food Connection, a nonprofit that feeds Tacoma’s hungry children.
I met the Food Connection’s executive director, Kevin Glacken-Coley, 35 years ago. He’s spent a career in the trenches serving and feeding Tacoma’s hungry and homeless, giving them what few could offer: hope.
He was there in the garden to share his stories. Last year, Food Connection and its partners rescued nearly 450,000 pounds of food that would have ended up in the garbage. Between the food banks and the summer meal programs, young and old are nourished. They know they have not been forgotten.
With every sip of wine, those present in our garden also propped up Adorned in Grace, a nonprofit ministry that helps victims of human trafficking.
With every sip of espresso and bite of dessert, our guests laid the groundwork for a Coffee Oasis in Tacoma, a program with a proven track record of helping teens transition out of homelessness in Kitsap County.
Then came more beautiful roses. Erin Guinup’s amazing Refugee Choir gloriously echoed their anthem, “Everybody Needs Love,” across the bay.
Bread and Roses, indeed.
The theme speaks not only to that special night, it speaks to our humanity. We are body and soul. We all hunger for bread. We all require shelter and warmth. But we also need roses.
We crave the “more” out of life, the poetry, arts and music. We want our voices to be heard whether it’s in a discussion of great ideas and thoughts or just asking someone to pass the butter, please.
It is beauty that fulfills us and brings us joy and makes us whole. We crave it. We thirst for connection and love. But this evening in the garden showed that not only must we seek bread and roses, we must become bread and roses.
Watching all these people gather for something greater than themselves, I realized it is in giving to others that we are broken. Just like the bread, we were made to nourish others and in doing so, we become poured out, pruned, surrendered and given. In the process, we die to ourselves, release our petty wants and needs. It is a glorious thing.
And the roses. Yes, every person is a unique and beautiful flower, a conduit of color and grace. We possess a transforming power while in full bloom. And the truth is, what blooms inevitably fades away. So let’s not waste any bloom time.
At the end of the day there will be no greater joy then to be completely empty.
That night above the bay, Barbara Bertolatz-Litteral, a longtime board member at Food Connection, told the gathered crowd that 200 kids would be cut from the program in September due to lack of funds. Her tears were contagious.
How was she going to tell those kids there would be no backpacks?
Then 50 good-hearted Tacoma folks stepped up. Backpacks were given that night, more than 400, and Barbara left knowing the kids would be fed.
Heaven and earth collided that night, as it does over and over again in homes, sitting around tables, in churches, in hearts and even under bridges throughout our community, everywhere bread is broken.
When we become sustenance for one another, we can’t help but radiate beauty and love, bread and roses.
Angela Connelly of Tacoma is president of the Washington Women’s Network. She is one of six reader columnists who write weekly for this page. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org