I begin to bake bread when twilight comes quickly and a chill is ever-present in the air. I begin to bake bread when the dark of winter is not yet upon us and the glow of Autumn shines through orange candles. I continue baking it through the cold of winter, as snow piles up and then melts. I bake bread until finally, the forsythia breaks through and yellow blossoms stand tall, breaking the fast of winter grey.
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 too early and feel the icy wind on my face.
I think about setting the oven to 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 on to me.
I pray for refugees and the kneading gets more intense. I pray for those who are close and have no electricity, and for the ones who are far, who have lost olive trees and babies. I pray that reason will prevail, and that the Church will practice compassion.
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.