I just finished reading Sara Miles’s “Take This Bread” last night. I always love reading spiritual memoirs, and this one is great – very much in the spirit of Anne Lamott’s “Traveling Mercies.” Miles’s conversion is very similar to Lamott’s, who just happened to find herself in a church one day. While Miles wasn’t under the influence, as Lamott describes her first journeys into St. Andrew’s in Marin City, her stumbling into St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco was just as random. She says that there was “no earthly reason to be there” – yet, there was, and through the ritual of communion, she experienced the presence of Christ and writes that “Jesus happened to me.”
The rest of the book focuses on her experience with St. Gregory’s church over the next few years, how her conversion to Christianity affected her relationship with her partner and daughter, how her friends reacted to her becoming a Christian (most were completely baffled) and what her hopes and dreams are for the church today.
Throughout her life, Miles had an intimate relationship with food and the meaning of offering food to strangers. Out of her recent conversion to Christianity, and out of her belief that the Gospel calls forth action from followers, she helped St. Gregory’s start up The Food Pantry, which has turned into an incredible ministry providing food for those who are homeless and needy in the area. I’m hoping to be able to go and volunteer occasionally at the pantry when we move to San Francisco.
I thoroughly recommend this book to you – and hope that you’ll give it a read. You can pick up a copy here at Amazon. Sara Miles’s voice is a wonderful addition to progressive Christianity, but no matter where you place yourself on the theological spectrum, she offers important critiques for the church, and helpful thoughts about the way forward in faith.
For more information on Sara Miles, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church and The Food Pantry, check out this report from PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.