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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Smell (the sense of smell) (07/29/10)

TITLE: Le Pain de Vie
By Karen Pourbabaee


Le Pain de Vie

The smell of bread baking downstairs at La Boulangerie de Rene wafted in through lace-framed windows, heralding the commencement of a new morn. The aroma cast an assurance within my spirit that God would sustain me this day as He has these eighty years. I sighed, arms outstretched overhead, and whispered “Bon Dieu de matin!”

My hand found the smooth curve of the wooden cane poised between the bedpost and the wall. A few faltering steps brought me to the lace-framed window and the window box overflowing with red geraniums and cheerful daisies. Salty breezes brushed my face. From the second story window, sandy beaches and the azure waters of the Pacific loomed as far as I could see. All seemed right in my village. What a glorious morning in St. Jean de Lutz.

My thoughts were interrupted by clopping sounds echoing in the staircase accompanied by my son’s greeting, “Bonjour papere!”Each morning at eight o’clock, that faithful aroma found its way upstairs on a platter of hot freshly baked bread, assorted fruits and cheese with steaming coffee.

“Bonjour Philippe! Merci! Don’t tarry now, customers are waiting!”

For sixty years, Boulangerie de Rene provided daily bread to many families of St. Jean de Luz. Philippe worked alongside me as a young boy, learning the baker’s trade, remained beside me as a young man and vowed to carry on the tradition when my feeble hands and eyes began to fail.

Completing my morning feast, the bells of the Church of St. John the Baptist announced a new hour of day. It was my time to pray. I recited the Lord’s prayer, thankful that indeed He provided my daily bread. Just saying it was a reminder that I am totally dependent on Him for all of my needs, spirit and body. My spirit was nourished and overflowed as I penned in my notebook:

Le pain de vie
Vous m’avez nourri
Je suis si reconnaissant pour vous
Qui a aime’ et m’a soutenu

Oh, le pain de ciel!

Le pain de vie
Vous rejouissez mon ame
Et la paix que j’ai sue
Fait ma vie joyeuse

Oh, le pain de ciel!

Setting aside my pen and book, I heard the giggles of children rising from the street below. Peering out the window, young Pierre shouted “Bonjour, Monsieur Rene!” Other young voices joined the chorus as I waved. Time to start my daily journey through the narrow streets of St. Jean, following Rue Gambetta and Rue St. Jacques to the seawall to meet my childhood friend, Charles.

As my cane and I reached the seawall steps, I caught sight of Charles, waving to get his attention. Soon we shared a bench, breathing in the signature scents of St. Jean, the salty sea breezes and the fishermen’s daily catch.

“Bonjour, Rene. I have already purchased some fish for our enjoyment
today. Brought bread, have you?”

“Of course,” I said opening my bag, “and a bit of wine for the appetite, too.”

“Let’s wait a bit, mon ami. I have been curious for many years about a sign hanging in your bakery.”

“And what might that be Charles?” I smiled ever so slightly, knowing…

“It reads I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.
What am I to make of it?”

“Oh, that one…” I prayed silently, listening to the swish of waves reaching the nearby shore and seagulls in flight.

“For many years Boulangerie de Rene has supplied life sustaining bread
to our fellow pilgrims in St. Jean.”


“We are all pilgrims, traveling through, headed to our eternal destination. Our physical bodies need bread and other foods to live; it has been my joy to prepare that life-giving bread to so many.”

I continued , holding up a piece of bread. “This bread will keep me alive for a day, but the bread of life I speak of will keep you alive forever.”

The bells of St. John’s announced the noon hour, creating a heavenly Amen, as Charles stared intently into my eyes, questioning…

“Jesus Christ is the bread of life. Only He can nourish your soul,” I shared.

“Cher ami, I want to know more. How do I partake of this bread of life?”

“By faith, cher ami. Receive Him into your heart and never hunger.”
Charles’ misty eyes revealed his understanding.

I believe the Lord Himself watched us that day on the beach as we shared bread and wine to commemorate his new found faith.

1. I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall never hunger.”
(John 6:35 NAS)
2. St. Jean de Luz is a fishing port on the Basque coast of southwest France, situated between the Pacific Ocean and the Pyrenees mountains
3. English translation of French poem:
Bread of life
You have fed me
I am so thankful for You
Who has loved and sustained me.

Oh, bread of heaven!

Bread of Life
You gladden my soul
The peace I have known
Makes my life joyful

Oh, bread of heaven!

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This article has been read 412 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/05/10
Bread has such a wonderful aroma,you did a great job of tying in the bakery in France with what Jesus did for us when He died for us.Amen.
Edy T Johnson 08/05/10
Since my studies included Latin and Spanish, but not French, I really appreciated your footnotes. You made the setting for your story so appealing (and I loved the tie-in between the bakery and the Bread of Life) I could almost imagine I'd been there in person.
Caitlyn Meissner08/06/10
I really appreciated this story, especially since I just taught on the "bread of life" topic last night at our VBS. Thank you for a good story. And I really enjoyed the French, too. It made it seem much more realistic. :)
Theresa Santy 08/07/10
Oh, I loved this.

It has been a longtime dream of mine to visit France. Two years ago, my daughter's paperdoll (flat Stanley project for school) visited France. We received pictures of the doll's (whose head was a picture of my daughter's face) travels. The doll sat next to french coffee, bread, and tourist hotspots. The doll's hosts even made her a paper peacoat and baret. I was a little bit jealous.

I loved, loved, loved this piece. It felt like France, or at least it felt like everything I love about what I think France is like.

Oh, and the piece had a beautiful message as well.
Lollie Hofer08/10/10
I like the pace of this story...you did a lot with just 750 words but none of it was forced. I like the ending, so full of hope.