The true bread of life

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:

Scripture: “Lord! Give us this bread always” (John: 6,34)


"This was a true prayer. Each of us needs such a prayer on a daily basis. But those that asked the Savior for this did not understand what they were asking for.

"The same thing often happens with us. That which we desire often is not that which the Lord intends for us. He prepares for us a great spiritual gift, but we look for earthly and material benefits.

"Through God’s mercy we have an Intercessor, the Holy Spirit, who transmits our requests, and in reply to our erroneous and unwise prayers He sends us not what we expected, but something higher and better.

"All his life Abraham looked for a land which he did not reach. But he received something better – he acquired an increase of faith, and his thoughts and desires began to seek a spiritual treasure – the only true one.

“The same thing happens with us: disillusioned with our dreams, we often do not receive what we ask the Lord for, but instead we receive the exceptional grace which we had no concept of. Following our difficult path in life, we strive for the phantom of unrealizable happiness, but the Lord leads us, step by step, over invisible stairs, to the only true and eternal bliss.”

I couldn’t think of a Lewis quote on this subject, but then thought that all of Lewis’s Christian life was about seeking and writing about “the bread of life”. Apparently, he had no interest in keeping most of the money he earned from his books. This is what Lyle Dorsett writes in his biography of Lewis’s wife, “And God Came In”:

“In truth, Joy saved Jack a lot of money. After moving into the Kilns she took over his checkbook, discovering thousands of pounds he did not even know he had. Furthermore, she encouraged him to take his small fortune out of a checking account and put it into a savings account and investments so that he could earn some interest on his capital. Lewis was a notoriously poor manager of his own finances. Indeed when he and Warnie were ready to purchase the Kilns back in 1930, the major discovered nearly 900 pounds in their account that Jack had entirely lost track of. Clearly, there was a need for better record keeping and stewardship. C.S. Lewis was not a wealthy man. He received but a modest salary from the University, and almost all of his royalties went into a charitable trust. Those funds underwrote numerous worthy causes, among them the educations of many seminarians , and Douglas and David Gresham’s school expenses at Dane Court. The advent of Joy, David, and Douglas cost Lewis some money. Not that Jack complained – he did not. However, Joy was pleased to be able to repay him, and probably with interest, by tidying up his accounts.”


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

1 Like

Off the top of my head I can’t think of an echo in a Lewis essay, but large parts of the dialogues between Ransom and the Green Lady (and later Weston) on Perelandra revolve around the topic of welcoming the good (“the wave”) that Maleldil sends rather than insisting on a personal expectation.
The end of chapter V is memorable, particularly the lady’s devastating - ‘How could there be anything I did not want?’. She meant, I think, that as all things come from Maleldil, Whom I love and Who loves me, why should I ever reject anything?
As an aside, I have always found it astonishing that Lewis could write dialogue for a person (The Green Lady) who is his own moral and intellectual superior.

Near the end of Chapter V:

And this, O Piebald, is the glory and wonder you have made me see; that it is I, I myself, who turn from the good expected to the given good. Out of my own heart I do it. One can conceive a heart which did not: which clung to the good it had first thought of and turned the good which was given it into no good.’

‘I don’t see the wonder and the glory of it,’ said Ransom.
Her eyes flashed upon him such a triumphant flight above his thoughts as would have been scorn in earthly eyes; but in that world it was not scorn.
‘I thought,’ she said, ‘that I was carried in the will of Him I love, but now I see that I walk with it. I thought that the good things He sent me drew me into them as the waves lift the islands; but now I see that it is I who plunge into them with my own legs and arms, as when we go swimming. I feel as if I were living in that roofless world of yours when men walk undefended beneath naked heaven. It is delight with terror in it! One’s own self to be walking from one good to another, walking beside Him as Himself may walk, not even holding hands. How has He made me so separate from Himself? How did it enter His mind to conceive such a thing? The world is so much larger than I thought. I thought we went along paths—but it seems there are no paths. The going itself is the path.’
‘And have you no fear,’ said Ransom, ‘that it will ever be hard to turn your heart from the thing you wanted to the thing Maleldil sends?’
‘I see,’ said the Lady presently. ‘The wave you plunge into may be very swift and great. You may need all your force to swim into it. You mean, He might send me a good like that?’
‘Yes—or like a wave so swift and great that all your force was too little.’
‘It often happens that way in swimming,’ said the Lady. ‘Is not that part of the delight?’
‘But are you happy without the King? Do you not want the King?’
‘Want him?’ she said. ‘How could there be anything I did not want?’
There was something in her replies that began to repel Ransom. ‘You can’t want him very much if you are happy without him,’ he said: and was immediately surprised at the sulkiness of his own voice.
‘Why?’ said the Lady. ‘And why, O Piebald, are you making little hills and valleys in your forehead and why do you give a little lift of your shoulders? Are these the signs of something in your world?’

1 Like

PS. The Green Lady dialogues inspired a little song a few years ago:

Every wave He rolls towards us,
Every wind He blows our way,
Is a gift that God affords us:
Chance to love His Will today.

Not in duteous resignation,
Nor in rage against the Light;
But in rapt anticipation,
Like a child’s on Christmas night.

For His Love for us is boundless,
And He sees how each must grow.
And our petty fears are groundless:
He is there where each must go.

P.Brittain 2018

1 Like

Peter, I love your song!!!

In addition to the dialogue with the Green Lady in Perelandra, Lewis has some fascinating remarks in the Problem of Pain about what obedience must have been like for the unfallen pair in the Garden of Eden: they would have delighted in obedience because obedience was what they delighted in. And they even delighted in the slight overcoming of the very slight resistance which might have existed simply by being a self as distinct from God, a self which had the option of choosing other than God’s will.

There is also that utterly delicious passage at the end of The Silver Chair where Aslan tells Caspian he can no longer want anything wrong now that he has died and is in Aslan’s country. Can you imagine what it will be like always to want the good, true and beautiful thing naturally as that which we truly want? That is what our Lord has in store for us!

Your song anticipates that almost unimaginable state of mind, Peter. Thank you!




Perelandra is my favorite fiction book of all time. I think I read the Space Trilogy 4 times. The Green Lady Is way wiser than I, who is often reluctant to accept the wave that Maledil sends.

Undragoned by Asian,

Thanks, Hyoi, for that song. I need to correct my grammar. I should have written, “The Green Lady Is way wiser than I, who AM often reluctant to accept the wave that Maledil sends.”


Thanks, Peter. Wonderful excerpts from Perelandra, and a beautiful poem. But when I download it, I only get the notes. Is there a way of downloading the music?


npübem, Dimitry,
Sorry I’m late. I missed your post.

I see no way to upload a sound file here, so I’ve put a quick&dirty a capella rendition in my dropbox:

PS It’s about 3 semitones down, for my bass voice. I deliberately went for the “Shenandoah” capstan-shanty vibe, which you will hear if you play those Dmaj7 chords.

PPS, Thanks for the kind encouragement, folks. Use it any way you like, but if you make any money, please give it ti charity.

Under the Mercy

1 Like

My younger son’s computer acumen is better than mine, and he helped me download your lovely song. I couldn’t place your accent at first, but then “googled” “captan-shanty”. Very nice!