Thoughts on Baking Bread

As the fall moves in and leaves change their colors, trading the dark green of late summer for the orange, red, and gold of Autumn, I begin to bake bread.

I begin to break bread when twilight comes quickly and a chill is ever-present in the air. I begin to break bread when the dark of winter is not yet upon us and the glow of Autumn shines through orange candles.

Making bread is often better therapy than a counseling session.

I think about baking bread on my way home from work as I watch the sun setting too early and feel the crisp air that will soon usher in winter.

I think about setting the oven at 350 degrees as I start the yeast rising. I think about the ingredients: wheat flour, white flour, oats, yeast, oil, sugar, salt. So simple–yet yielding so much.

I mix up the oats, sugar, salt, whole wheat flour, and oil. I add boiling hot water.

I wait and then add yeast and the rest of the flour.

And then I take the slightly sticky dough and I knead. I knead and I pray.

I start global and I go local. I pray for Egypt and Pakistan, for peace, for mercy. I pray for the chasm of misunderstanding between East and West. I pray for Syria, that a miracle will happen. I pray for my family, that my children will know the joy of baking bread, of creating, of loving, of forgiveness and forgiving. I pray for my parents – thank God for them and what they have passed to me.

And then I pray that I will forgive more and judge less, that I will find my strength and security in the One who is the bread of life,

I pound harder on the bread when I’m upset, when I feel hurt or anger rise to my eyes and heart. I concentrate deeply as I think about life in all its hard and all its good.  And as I do the bread becomes smoother under my hands.

This time in the kitchen, baking bread? It is holy time, holy work.

I set the bread to rise and I thank God for bread and for life.


14 thoughts on “Thoughts on Baking Bread

  1. Marilyn, what an inspiring post. I spent quite some time praying in the chapel this afternoon seeking answers. It seems you have answered some of my prayers with your touching and honest post. God works in mysterious ways, Petra


  2. Wonderful … these thoughts on kneading life-skills into our day… I look back through the window of time, to see a little Canadian girl in Indonesia, a child of missionaries, being tucked into bed. Just before turning over to sleep, my mom would come in to share nightly prayers. The most important part of that routine was that every day of the week had specific countries of the world assigned. Countries that we would pray for, and each day also had specific regions of Indonesia. My mother wasn’t ever too hurried to tell me what urgent need might be felt in a given country far away; or more close to home, what needs fellow-missionaries or Indonesian friends carried. Every night before letting go of consciousness, we would surrender it all before our loving Father.

    And to my mother’s dying day, aged to the point of great difficulty, she was still praying. Beside her bed, taped to the door were written in large letters all the names of her family members, oldest to youngest, to aid in her failing eyesight and in her failing memory. After we laid her to rest for the last time, we returned to her suite to find small piles of papers throughout her living room & bedroom area… letters from friends, clippings from magazines, emails sent to her from friends – all with special needs highlighted or underscored. Amid the shared heartache, and often with tears, she found great joy in the intercession.

    What a beautiful memory.


    1. So beautiful — thank you. I have memories of my mum tucking me in as well, Made more poignant because of boarding school. Your last paragraph about your mother is so lovely and so what I want to be. thank you for this.


  3. Thanks for pointing me to that very simple recipe one time when you were visiting. And you baked it for us! I used to think of bread as my stress reliever when we were in Pakistan. Our Area Director was visiting one time, and came into the kitchen as I was taking 4 loaves out of the oven. I told him why it was one of the most satisfying things I did because I could start it and see the fruits of my labor in a few hours, a job done and something to show for it. At that stage in my life I was busy with many varied responsibilities, and so often waited long for the satisfaction of seeing something accomplished. Too many things in process and plenty of stress.
    I, too, am baking bread regularly now that it has cooled off. My motive here and now is that I really don’t like the bread we buy. Home made bread is the best!


  4. Wondering if you’d share your bread recipe? It sounds yummy and my husband, the bread baker in the family, wants to expand his repertoire of recipes.


  5. Just lovely. I often bake all Sunday afternoon, as an extension of worship, listening to music and singing, preparing my heart, baking some goody as an offering to bring to study group that night, as a way to mentally process the week ahead and to relax. Indeed, sometimes it is better than a counseling session!


Add to the discussion...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s