Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


Some of you know that I have been scheduled to re-visit my friends at the monastery again for some time now. My first visit was more or less about just getting used to the speed of the place, and the sense that time "bends." I came with nothing, and I left with something.

I heard a line in my online EFM class that stuck with me--that many parts of our spiritual development are about "making bread for the journey."

So one of the things the spiritual director here and I talked about was "what that bread was about for me." As we worked through this process, I came to realize that because so much of my spirituality is "physical"--always connected to sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures--that perhaps a good exercise would be to literally bake a real loaf of bread that would be representative of this journey, share it, and eat it.

One part of this was to list the ingredients in the recipe and reflect on their symbolism.

We chose a recipe for "Companion bread." What is interesting about that, of course, is that the word "companion" literally means "someone with whom you share bread." I also got to add a few "extra" ingredients to personalize it. Here's the list of ingredients and what I decided that they represent:

Whole wheat flour and white flour: The most interesting thing for me is that a batch of this bread had a ratio of 2.5 cups of wheat flour to 1.5 cups of white flour. Flour is the staple of bread; the "ground of its being," so to speak. I think it would be safe to say that I am made of more "raw, unpolished, rough husk" than I am "polished finely ground product." So, in this sense, the base of this bread is very much like the base of me.

Water: The obvious connection jumped out here. We are all connected by the waters of baptism. Water connects us to everyone else, whether we want to, or not.

Sour cream: If you think of cream as the "top notch, richest part of milk," sour cream may well be representative of all the beautiful hopes and dreams in our lives that have gone sour. Yet the "tartness" of sour cream makes bland things tastier, and even gives food a hidden sweetness. In the background of the taste of sour cream lies a memory of sweet things. These memories keep us from losing hope, even in the face of "sour-ness."

Butter: I mostly thought about butter in two ways. It, like sour cream also is a "transformed" cream product, but its transformation is more positive than that of sour cream. In one sense, it represents the things that turned out better than we expected. The other thing I thought about was the lubricant properties of butter. Butter keeps things from sticking and burning. Butter, perhaps, loosens up the things I have more trouble with "letting go" than I can do myself. Butter has aspects of the Holy Spirit, in this way.

Brown Sugar: I again nod to its more "raw, unrefined," nature. Its sweetness is not as "classically sweet" as white sugar. It has a background taste of molasses to it--a "raw, full body" sweetness as opposed to a lighter, airier one. I think my friends would say I am incredibly sweet in a somewhat surprising way, and that sometimes "the angel springs from the curmudgeon" when you might least expect it. My own tastes run that I generally do not like "sweet things" but I do like things with an earthy hint of sweetness.

Wheat Germ: Wheat germ is the most nutritious part of wheat, and the most digestible. It has the most value in terms of our body's well-being. Wheat germ is very much like that little tiny mustard seed in terms of faith--a little bit packs a lot.

Grape-nuts cereal: I added Grape-nuts because of its representation of the mystery of God. Grape-nuts has neither grapes nor nuts-- it is made of wheat and barley--yet in its cooking, it develops a sweet flavor and a nutty aftertaste. Something you might also have not known about Grape-nuts is that it is one of the cereals that is most resistant to spoilage--so much so, it was added to jungle survival rations during WWII. As we grow in faith, it becomes more resistant to spoilage, no matter what befalls us in life.

Applesauce with a drizzle of honey: This Friday is Rosh Hashanah, and apples dipped in honey, representing the fruits of the harvest and a sweet new year. I added them partly because so much of what I historically understand about my Christianity is grounded in Judaism. Another part of it was because every day of our lives, we take our harvest up to that point in time, and live each next day as the first day of a "new year." It represents constant renewal in our spiritual walk.

Salt: By itself, salt is an irritant. Think about the phrase "rubbing salt in the wound." Yet without salt, we cannot live. Every one of our body fluids and every cell in our body has a tiny bit of salt in it--it is what makes us "isotonic." Salt also is the main activator of yeast in bread-making. It is what makes the favorable pH for the water so that the yeast culture grows to its maximum potential. That tiny "pinch of salt" is what also maintains our balance for life.

Yeast: Obviously, you can have bread without yeast. That's what Passover is all about. But few people prefer unleavened bread to leavened bread. What gives bread "life" is a living thing--a culture of dormant yeast, activated by warm water and salt. There are so many dormant things inside of us, waiting for that moment that, with the right combinations of ingredients, can spring to life and grow and reproduce, causing the world around us to literally rise and come into being. Yeast is the little grain of the Creator in all of us.

Next, I was asked to consider the sensory experience of this bread. As it cooled, it smelled warm and earthy. Each slice was heavy and solid--maybe a little too solid for those who like "light breads." I laughed, because sometimes I am a little heavy for people now and then. I found the taste full and satisfying. One piece of this bread was enough at a meal, I didn't have to overeat it to "get my fill." I thought about how God provides us with "enough." It might look like only "one slice of bread" but that one slice was "enough." Since I knew everything that was in it, I realized I could not taste everything in it as individual things--but it had a taste all its own.

Much of this bread is "indigestable material." It will pass right through me, unchanged. Yet indigestable material is indispensible to our well being--particularly our digestive tract. The parts that will be absorbed will mostly, be very healthy. Wouldn't it be great if in our lives, we could simply extract the healthy things, and let the indigestable things go right through us, and not try to grind them up in our GI tracts and give us a belly-ache? What a prayer that would make. What lives we would live.

Some of this sharing of this bread is virtual--I can't feed my readers a piece, but somehow, I have managed to "share this bread" just the same, in the communion of the blogosphere. Thank you for letting me share it. I enjoy sharing bites of your bread, too!

5 comments:

If I have any true addiction, it is to bread. Warm. Crusty on the outside. Soft on the inside. Dripping with butter.

That's the image of my goal for my spiritual life. So far, I've got the "crusty on the outside" down pat.

What a joyful, dusty shoes on the ground, post!

Thanks, you two. This particular loaf of bread did not have a firm crust; but "enough" crust. What got me was it was pretty evenly solid through and through, with no "air holes" of any great size. I liked the fact it was "evenly solid!"

You share bread in more ways than you know!

(blush.) Aw, gee whiz...(scuffs ground and looks embarrassed.)

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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