Sunday, January 24, 2010

In the making of the bread

Winning bread? Not really my thing right now.

But making it? Yes, I can do that.

I am drawn to the authenticity of the process, especially to the physical work of kneading. In this world of power buttons and touch screens, I find something soul centering about digging into the dough—folding it, pressing it, over and over until it changes in my hands. I am here, now: there are no shortcuts. I can't multitask. The dough roots me in the present moment and yokes my attention to the work of my hands. And I love it when the girls help – we gather around the table, me kneading the main lump, each child working with her own miniature ball. My mind's eye sees this ritual with grown girls – I imagine a gathering space in the making of the bread.

And then there's the transformation – the rising. Left alone, hidden, the dough expands. What a pleasing surprise to peek under the towel to find it doubled in size! Perhaps this is akin to child rearing – we teach daily lessons, which work in the hidden space of a child's heart. One day, I think, we get to glimpse into that warm rising space and discover how kindness and compassion have expanded within them, sole to crown.

Finally, the bread bakes – oh, the aroma! Such a comforting smell – a scent I can pull over my head and snuggle into – the smell of home. It's a smell that signals the end of a deliberate process, one that puts a staple food on our plates. But I don't bake bread often enough: kitchen projects usually fall in the chore category for me (oh, the extra dishes!). Instead, we opt for the convenience and regularity of the store bought loaf, though there's nothing special about it – it's a mere vehicle for peanut butter. But this week, I plan to bake a loaf or two. Perhaps I'll turn out inedible bricks, but I will enjoy the process.