flour, oil, a road
The story of the Widow at Zarephath in the Biblical text is one of depletion, sacrifice, and miraculous provision. The Lord directed Elijah to to go to this widow for food. She only had enough oil and flour for her and her son to eat one last time, after which they would die. Yet when Elijah asked, despite being a stranger, she made bread for him instead. For her sacrifice a miraculous thing happened. She was told her “jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry.” Out of utter depletion came inexplicable provision beyond the end of this story. The oil and flour are simplistic and small elements to satisfy their basic need steadily and consistently day after day. There is an abundance through a little bit over a long period of time.
I think of that long time as a road. The same surface is beneath one’s feet over and over and over. The same elements needed over and over and over. Although small, over the long haul, these increments become something significant as they become part of the ground upon which they fall. They are elements that meld, no longer separate on their own, but become part of something else by giving up themselves for the provision of another.
The word “breadth” refers to a long width or measurement of something. This title reflects the long stretch by which these simple provisions will go. According to natural law, the materials are finite, but the need continues forever. In this story, the everyday need is taken care of through the miraculous repeated provision. The word “breadth” is also defined as “freedom from narrowness or restraint; liberality.” In abundance there is freedom. I find it interesting that the word “breadth” is so closely related to the words “bread” and “breath.” Both bread and breath are basic but when experienced in length, in breadth, they are ultimate life-giving elements.