Monday, November 06, 2006

The Office and Duty of a Lady

Quote from John Ruskin:
"I would have them desire and claim the title of "lady" provided they claim not merely the title, but the office and duty signified by it. "Lady" means "bread-giver" or "loaf-giver," and "lord" means "maintainer of laws"; and both titles have reference, not to the law which is maintained in the house, nor to the bread which is given to the household, but to law maintained for the multitude, and true bread broken among the multitude.So that a Lord has legal claim only to his title in so far as he is the maintainer of the justice of the Lord of lords; and a Lady has legal claim to her title only so far as she communicates that help to the poor representatives of her Master, which women once, ministering to Him of their substance, were permitted to extend to that Master Himself; and when she is known, as He Himself once was, in breaking of bread."
~~from the book Sesame and Lilies

I remember the exhaustion I felt after giving birth to my first child. A dear Lady, who deserved that title, brought me a piping-hot, fresh loaf of bread. It was such a comfort.

That small act of kindness stimulated me to distribute loaves. I enjoy bringing a loaf with me to church and giving it to the person who seems most in need of a little boost. I bring a loaf to the hairdresser every time I see her. It has become my standard offering as a housewarming gift and to new mothers. At holiday season, a homely loaf of bread is appreciated as much or more than a plate of sweets.

I love the end of Ruskin's quote, "...she is known, as He Himself once was, in breaking of bread." The willingness to feed the lambs is the mark of a Lady and manifests the true character of Christ, the Bread of Life.

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