Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Meditation of Bread

A few weeks ago I was given a different brand of whole wheat flour
than I have been using.
Suddenly my bread recipe,
which I had tweaked for some time to get right, failed me.
I wasn't doing anything different other than using another brand.
I have to think about bread again.

Since I began making the bread we eat, I think about bread often.
Is there any bread?
Is there enough bread?
I had better make bread.
Will the bread rise?
Are the ratios right?
Bread is a daily thought.

But then recently, I decided to give a sourdough starter a try --
one I started myself, and didn't receive as a ready gift.
Now bread is an always thought.

I peer into the bowl.
Is it alive yet?
Any signs of life at all?
I smell it.
I watch it.
I feed it.
I wait for it.
I read for hours about it.
I study different schools of thought about it,
and make decisions about which care it will receive.
I plan ahead for its future.
I have hopes for this bread.
For a future of bread and more bread from it.
For pancakes
and cinnamon rolls
and boules
and rolls.
If I can only tell if it's healthy.

Last night I researched signs of health for my bread.
And I discovered I was starving it.
So I fed it an appropriate amount, and it liked it!
Oh, the joy.
I have been feeding it and watching it all day,
and I think it might be on the verge of being perfect --
for a young sourdough starter.
It doubled today.

So I researched 'proofing the sponge'.
Now I watch again anxiously.
Is it working?
Will it rise?
I smell it.
I wait for it.
I think about it while I do the dishes,
washing all the doughy mess from my bowls and utensils.
I wonder if I understand the Bible passages about leaven.
I wonder if in our buy-ten-loaves-of-bread-
and-stick-them-in-our-freezers culture
if I've understood at all.
I think about the feast of unleavened bread,
and I wonder what it means.
What it really means.
And about the purging out of old leaven,
and if it's what I just did when I dumped half the starter down the sink.

And I think about the kingdom of heaven,
and the womanly tasks He described it with.
About leaven, and about lost money,
and the thorough sweeping she did when she lost it.
I think about my Mom and the sometimes days
when she lost money in her checkbook,
and sent us all away so she could balance months' worth of transactions,
'thoroughly sweeping' until she found it.
Or when she maybe lost a check,
and how the entire office had to be ransacked
and set back in order until it was found.
And my mind goes back to the bread.

He put it into His teaching to His disciples on how to pray.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors...

And it makes me smile as I realize
that the meditation of the bread
has brought me full circle to His kingdom.
To His care for me and my bread.
To His holiness.
To the hope of justice and the concern for His will.
To forgiveness.
The asking for it.
The giving of it.
Because man shall not live on bread alone.

1 comment:

Tanya said...

Beautiful. How I love that God teaches us so much through what appears to be simple things.