Jacob The Baker
Continued from preceding page
the other. She shifted her purse to the same
hand that held her gloves so she could
reach out and greet Jacob.
When she released his hand, she con-
tinued to stare down at the flour dust set-
tling on the floor where Jacob stood. She
swallowed in an attempt to gather herself.
"Did you write this?" she asked,
thrusting one of Jacob's notes forward.
The note read: "Wisdom does not make
me full. It fills me with hunger."
Jacob looked at the paper and nodded
"How wise you must be," said the lady,
with great flattery. "All my life I've been
pursuing wisdom, and you've captured my
frustration. I feel like a fool."
"Anyone who has struggled with
wisdom has felt like a fool." said Jacob.
The lady and Samuel stood there is
silence, looking at Jacob and weighing his
Then, they looked back and forth at
each other, then back at Jacob, and then
back at each other.
"Well, will he do it?" she asked Samuel,
as if Jacob weren't there.
Samuel turned to Jacob. "Well, will you
do it? Will you let us have some of your
ideas for the bread?"
Jacob grinned. "Only arrogance guards
what it doesn't own!"
Samuel nodded to the lady. "He'll do it:'
The lady returned her focus to Jacob.
"Thank you;' she said.
But Jacob had already retreated to the
bakery, leaving her appreciation to find
peace on the ground where Jacob left his
footprints, in the flour dust.
Jacob traced his path to work on the
way home. He traveled within. A small,
frozen puddle of water, caught by a rock,
huddled next to a curb and drew his
"An eternity is any moment opened
with patience," he reminded himself.
Then he raised the tip of his boot and
pushed down on the layers of ice. He could
feel the pressure of the lady's request that
morning in the bakery.
The ice cracked under the insistence of
his boot, sending a map of new patterns
across the surface.
He continued home and noted spring
was in the air.
Jacob warmed a cup of soup for dinner
and finished the heel of his morning bread.
His books of learning surrounded him,
their blue bindingS appearing black in the
Small pads of yellow paper, a stack of
blank white paper, pencils, and pens crowd-
ed a worn wooden desk.
Jacob sat to write but did not. The
clean innocence of the empty pages instead
invited his imagination on an ancient
route, _and, on that journey, absent of eter-
nal arguments of logic and reason and in-
dividual perspective, Jacob climbed his
During the night, angels stared down
through the stars into Jacob's world. They
watched him sleep. They commented on the
way his body folded on the bed. They liked
this man. They drew their wings over him
and stood guard by his soul.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 1989
The next morning, Samuel's voice
flexed with excitement as it again reached
into the bakery and begged for Jacob's at-
"That lady is back;' shouted Samuel.
"Everyone loved your 'thoughts' in their
bread. But they want more. They all want
more. Will you do it for me?"
Max, the young man with thick
muscles, who carried the flour sacks, gave
Jacob a gentle elbow in the ribs and wink-
ed at him.
"How much will they pay you? Maybe
you can make some extra money, eh?" Max
raised his voice at the end of the sentence.
"You know, he may be right;' said
Samuel. "Are you interested, Jacob?"
"No!" said Jacob with amusement:
"Greed only uses expectation to arrive at
Max was intrigued. "Does that mean
you're going to give them your thoughts for
"I will," said Jacob, touched by Max's
form of caring.
Jacob nodded his consent to Samuel.
"Thank you;' said Samuel, and he
meant it. But, from somewhere, in an unar-
ticulated voice, he knew his friend's life was
And Samuel was right. Because now,
people hurried to the bakery, anxious to
ask Jacob how they should live, and what
Jacob was a reed, and the
breath of God blew through
Jacob, made music of him.
should be said to this child, and how do I
struggle with this sadness?
They came in haste and noise and deep
concern. They reached out to touch him as
he walked down the street.
The secret of Jacob became a whisper,
which rode the wind into every ear, and the
community embraced Jacob as if he were
a long-ignored human treasure suddenly
"Tell us the truth about life!" someone
And Jacob responded. "Language is
only a lie told about the truth?'
"Can you show us a miracle, Jacob?"
And he answered. "A miracle is often
the willingness to see the common in an
"How can we have more, Jacob?"
And Jacob answered. "The only way I
can take a breath is by releasing my
breath. In order to be more, I must be will-
ing to be less."
A neighbor of Jacob's needed to start on
a journey, but it was the middle of the
Afraid to begin, afraid_not to begin .. .
he came to Jacob.
"There is no light on the path;' he
"Take someone with you;' counseled
"Jacob what do you mean? If I do that,
there will be two blind men."
"You are wrong," said Jacob. "If two
people discover each other's blindness, it is
already growing light!"
A mother and father came to Jacob and
asked to speak with him about patience.
"Tell us what we need to know in order
to be more patient?'
"Go away," said Jacob. "I have no time
"Well;' said the couple, "how do you
think that makes us feel?"
"Ah," said Jacob smiling. "That is the
first lesson in learning to be patient with
Two men approached Jacob and asked
him to decide which of them was wise.
"I know what is right;' said the first
"I know what is wrong," said the other.
"Good," said Jacob. "Together you
make one wise man."
A man wandered for many years,
searching for happiness. Much came into
his possession, but no joy remained.
He came to Jacob and stood weeping,
complaining about how he had been
cheated in life.
Eventually, he turned his head toward
Jacob and moaned, "Why me? Why me?"
And Jacob answered, "Why not you?
You've looked everywhere else."
One night, while he slept, Jacob's mind
stepped onto Jacob's ladder and posed a
"To what heights can a person aspire?"
he asked himself.
"To the Number ONE;' he heard
"And after that?"
"And after that, Moses came down the
mountain knowing less than ONE would
leave the world with nothing, and more
would leave the world in pieces."
There was a terrible banging on Jacob's
front door. From the intensity of the ham-
mering and shouts, it became clear to Jacob
he had been unaware of the noise for some
time. This awareness did not disturb him.
He appeared rather to enjoy it.
When the door was opened, a man with
a puffy red face shouted at Jacob, "What
were you doing?"
"Thinking' said Jacob, giving very lit-
tle notice to the man's anger.
"Look, Jacob! I've seen you for a long
time. You're just Jacob the baker. Now
everyone wants to ask you questions, and
the children come to learn from you. What
do you tell them?"
Jacob was missing the warmth of the
huge bakery oven. The sunrise was paint-
ing orange cracks in the gray sky.
He searched his mind for a door these
men might pass through and then spoke.
"I will be glad to tell you what I have
been teaching the children," he began, "but
first you must all agree to put your fingers
in your ears:'
The men did as they were told and
stood as a jury directly opposite Jacob who
again began speaking.
After a few minutes, the men waved
and shouted, trying to draw Jacob's
"Jacob;' they said, "we can't hear
what's being said when our fingers are in
"That;' answered Jacob, "is what I
have been telling your children." ❑