The Therapy of Baking Bread

bread

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.

9 thoughts on “The Therapy of Baking Bread

  1. I’m so far behind in blog reading —- I wish I would have read this days ago…. This is pastoral and nourishing. Thank you Marilyn.

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  2. I often contemplate that our modern culture removes some God-given activities that help us cope! You have it so right. These activities can be as good as a counseling session.
    I juiced lemons yesterday while I prayed and cried for a friend. Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I was so angry at the lemons my friend is dealing with as I battled streams of acid squirting in my eyes and stinging my rough cuticles. It brought some relief to pulverize those lemons.
    After reading your post, I might make bread today and keep praying.

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  3. your Dad says, “Needing bread, please bring a loaf when you come!” Such a beautiful loaf. I always used to find the kneading of bread a wonderful stress reducer, and I love that you do so much praying into the process of making the bread. I’m sure it makes the bread even better!

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