This past winter I became obsessed with baking yeast breads. Before you get too excited by the thought of wonderful smells emanating from my kitchen, please understand that the reality didn’t quite live up to the expectation. Oh the smells were fantastic and many of the loaves were actually edible but none, NONE of them actually looked like the picture on Pinterest or the world-wide web where I found the recipes.
Part of my interest in making bread – homemade bread was for my family to be able to enjoy it with a nice bowl of hot soup. I loved the idea of them walking through the door – the aroma saying welcome there is comfort and love here. As the days warmed, I gave up my attempt to make the best yeast bread possible but will probably return to it once the leaves begin to turn. That is a warning for family – only fair that I should let them know what is coming.
The other reason for my incessant attempt to bake bread was in the connection that was created while making it. Baking anything takes time – baking bread takes time and patience and attention. The process provided a space for me to pause, to be still. For me it became a kind of discipline – a prayer discipline. The mystery of bread rising (ok – not exactly a mystery for many of you) and the divine mystery of prayer were a powerful combination.
As I mixed the ingredients I would think of women across time and culture that had done the same. As my arm muscles worked to knead the dough I would imagine women sitting around a fire together, talking and creating. As I waited for the dough to rise I would see them moving on to another task – bouncing a baby perhaps or talking with a friend. I thought of all the women who had ever made bread – EVER. I imagined them – I imagined my great-grandmother working over her bread bowl that now sits in my mother’s kitchen. I imagined.
As my hands moved over and through the dough, sticky with the gooey substance, I prayed. I prayed for mothers, for daughters, for sisters and friends ones that I knew and others that I didn’t. I prayed for children everywhere to have full bellies and a giggle waiting to be unleashed. I prayed for God’s Peaceable Kingdom – for Eden as it was meant. It was a powerful experience – one that taught me the value of allowing everyday activities to take me to a holy place, to a sacred space.
With anticipation I look toward autumn for the many gifts she has to share. I look forward to time spent indoors with family and friends around big pots of homemade soup. And yes, I look forward to praying over bread for God’s created world to be as God intended.
So here is to more bagels, baguettes and breads!
(On a side note: as I write this my love is peering over my shoulder – asking if organizing closets could provide the same sacred connection through an everyday task. Somehow I think the answer to that is a resounding NO! But I’ll try anyway!)