Bread and Puppets

ImageWhen I lived in New York City, I had a holiday tradition to meet up with an old friend and spend an evening catching up and getting into the holiday spirit. 

One year she suggested a theatre show put on by a travelling puppeteer group named Bread and Puppets. 


Bread and Puppets is a long-standing troupe that thinks theatre should be an active process, a type of food for the soul, rather than a passive experience. Not only do they create fabulous puppets and promote a staunchly anti-war message, they also bake homemade bread that’s handed out after the show as a way of creating community.


I have no idea what the show’s theme was on that cold, winter night, but I remember having a sense of awe that people had invested their lives into creating something with great expression and imagination.  I remember some of the visuals, the puppets, the staging, and, yes, the delicious bread! 


I also remember that evening because as I purchased a piece art from their concession, a young artist came bounding up to me.  I had chosen a piece of art he had created, and he was so excited that he couldn’t contain himself.  The painting was a small black and white with a touch of red.  It’s a portrait of a bedraggled St. Nick with a crown of thorns.  Or is it Jesus with a big beard?  I don’t know.  The words, “Ho, ho ho!” run down the side.  It’s dark.  It’s ironic.  It spoke to me.  This tiny, wallet size painting on a scrap piece of corrugated cardboard held the angst I often feel about the two, entwined festivals we celebrate this month: Christmas as encouraged by consumer culture; and Christmas as the Incarnation of Christ (God in flesh appearing.) 


I do not intend to suggest this image is the only or even the central imagine in my heart as I ponder my holiday shopping list.  However, I find it challenges me to reconsider where I’m putting my time and money in the midst of such a frantic season.  And, if I’m honest, I like this image because it’s not jolly.  I’m not always jolly, not even at/for Christmas.  And yet, every time I look upon this image, I laugh to myself.  It warms my heart because I cannot separate the political and religious expression from my experience of the young man who created it.  We have a shared ministry: we both hope and act for a more peace-filled world.  Our connection, wrapped up in a tiny painting is a gift that keeps giving—it was and is bread for my journey.


May your bread be plentiful this Christmas season and always.





We have two types of puppet shows: good ones and bad ones, but all of them are for good and against evil. ” -Peter Schumann, Founder, Bread and Puppets


Image by Bread and Puppet TheatreImage


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