Yesterday I baked bread with my kids. Yes, I have jumped on the bread-baking bandwagon…late of course. I never did seem to get into things when everyone else did. As we mixed and kneaded and stretched and punched, I couldn’t help but think about how making this bread is a lot like how I want to build my life.
Baking bread really is both simple and complex. Simple ingredients working together in complex ways to bring something that can sustain life. Plus, it just smells do amazing when it is baking.
Mixing the ingredients takes some patience. The kids wanted to just put everything together. I explained that the yeast (thank you Nancee) needed time to proof. So we waited, and waited. And just when I thought they were going to check out, poof, the yeast began its beautiful explosive show.
How often is life like that? We don’t want to wait, but wait we must. And just as we are about to give up on the miracle, it happens. So wait for the miracle. Don’t give up minutes or seconds before it happens. Know it will happen, and then just wait for it.
Once everything was mixed together, they kneaded the bread, stretching and twisting and folding it all together. Don’t our lives feel like that sometimes? We are stretched and twisted, our circumstances pull us apart and lead us to fold sometimes. And yet, after all the stretching and pulling apart, we rise.
Yes, we rise. And rise. Just like that bread, sitting still, being calm rises and doubles in size. When I am still, when I am calm, I rise too. I began a meditation practice about a year ago and I continue it today. And I find when I take the time to be calm and still, to listen instead of always talking, to receive instead of always giving, that I also rise. I overcome hardships not by fighting them, but be surrendering to them and being still.
But of course, just as the dough rises and rises, at some point it needs to be “punched down” or deflated. In order to put the dough in the loaf pan or to shape it, it must be deflated. Do you ever feel that way? Like when you have risen to a place where you feel accomplished and successful and like your life is exactly where you wanted it to be, that something comes along to “punch you down” or to deflate you? It has happened to me. But rather than being discouraged, have hope. The deflation is necessary to be shaped and reshaped. And after the shaping comes another rising.
And as my bread lovingly baked in the warm oven, it became exactly what it was meant to be. We become exactly who we are meant to be through the trials and hardships but also through the love and warmth and support of our relationships. So if you are feeling like you need some warmth, reach out to a friend or family member. Reach out to someone who loves you. And if you want to make a difference, reach out to someone you know needs a little love and kindness and warmth today.
As you work through this day, enjoying this weekend, I encourage to you to continue thinking of our most vulnerable friends, family members and strangers who need us to keep safe physical distance, wash our hands, wear a mask where we can and stay home if we are sick. As always, stay safe, stay connected, reach out and be well.
Oh, the most important part…the bread is DELICIOUS!