I love to bake bread. There is something wondrous about taking basic ingredients – flour, salt, yeast, water – and transforming them into something not only sustaining, but sensual, in the broadest meaning of the word. We taste the nuances of flavor. We feel the texture as we chew – ranging from soft and airy to dense with bits of cooked grain. Before we even put blade to bread we smell its wholesomeness. The welcome of that aroma is so hard-wired into us that some houses are sold on the basis of it. (At least, that’s what I told myself when I’d bake bread before our own open house events.)
Bread is also a most basic form of caring. For example, here’s an excerpt from Helen Minton’s poem Bread:
I punch it down, knead the dark
flour into the light, let it bake,
then set it on the table beside the knife,
learning the power
cooks have over others, the pleasure
of saying eat.
It is a gift that encourages with friendship --“bread to strengthen man's heart” (Psalm 104:15). Over the years, I have given away many loaves of oatmeal bread, my go-to recipe. All three of my grown sons bake and embrace the giving nature of fresh bread. Just this past weekend, we arrived at our oldest son’s house to find three, beautiful loaves, freshly baked on his counter. A little later, I observed him taking one of them across the street to his neighbor.
How fitting it is that Jesus calls himself the “bread of life.” For nothing could be more nourishing and sustaining to our hungry souls than his great love.
Thank you, Father, for the joy that comes from baking, eating and sharing bread. Thank you, as well, for the “pleasure of saying eat,” for such a simple way to bless people. Most of all, for giving us the bread of life, your Son. How he strengthens our hearts and sustains us!