She is a petite woman, in her late 60's perhaps early 70's. Her lines on her face speak of a life of struggle and perseverance but her eyes, they are deep pools of a history that has both sorrow and hope. They speak "Look deep for I have seen much, I have a story to tell."
For a number of weeks now on my way home from work I have seen Madeline rummaging through the recyclable trash and food compost gathering the cans and crushing them and sorting through the freshly baked loaves of bread from this upscale bakery as if sifting for gold and only choosing the best. " The most organic, the most healthy and tasty of them all", she says to me. She recites the macrobiotic table like you or I would say the alphabet and she knows precisely how to mix the right amount of protein with her grains to the absolute detail of the grams. "I might not always remember my middle name but I do know this she exclaims with confidence. I have known this for over 40 years!" she states with exuberance.
Madeline tells me about the economy knowing all the right names, the statistics, stocks and outsourcing of jobs and has obviously been reading about it for years but mostly............experiencing it. You see Madeline lives in a very small apartment where she has resided for decades and says "You know I have to make ends meet, I get $845 per month and that must cover rent, food, my medical expenses.....everything." Madeline does not say this with bitterness or anger but matter of factly and grieves the state of our nation, our world. She speaks clearly , with wisdom, insight and obviously a woman who has learned from her every day life.
"I was in marketing you know when I used to work." I acknowledge her experience and she continues on without missing a beat. "I like this particular bread, this fabulous whole wheat with peanut butter and this one, this seeded one with vegetables when I can get them."
"What is your name?" she asks, "My name is Bill", I reply. "Nice to meet you Bill, would you like to share a piece of bread with me? It is fresh, see, right out of this bag and it has not been touched." I am taken back.....what share this from a compost can? Where has it been? I'm not used to this, I quietly think within myself, is this safe?
Madeline takes the slice of bread out of the bag and offers it to me but then looks deeply into my eyes and says, no, no, take two" and holds out her hand to give them to me. I pause, I let go of all my fear at this moment, reach out my hand and say "Thank you Madeline" and then I knew without another word being spoken we were connected with every cell, every breath and in this present moment we were partakers, together of the Bread of LIfe.