Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Getting back into it

I baked bread tonight for the first time in a long time. Correction: tonight I kneaded bread tonight for the first time in a long time. A couple of years ago, I was baking bread almost daily - it was part of my routine, and I managed to work it in basically anywhere. Gosh, I don't even know when or how the routine started to change, but bread baking slowly slipped out of the scene. I've tried to get back into it a few times, and have done so with some regularity here and there, but I found that if I started using a food processor, instead of kneading by hand, I could work faster. But tonight, as I was mulling over the details of a final project I've got due for a class, I went downstairs and started baking bread. Just a simple whole wheat bread--easy to do if you've got a few hours for the rising, no need for a food processor. It was when I was kneading the bread that I remembered why I love baking bread so much. I like to eat it, sure, but the part I really love is that experience of kneading the bread--of taking a mush of flour, yeast, salt, water, and oil, and seeing it firm up. As I kneaded, the goopy mess started to get a bit it, and as I felt the warmth of it beneath my hands, I started to think about it as a living thing.

I know I've been in seminary too long when I start to think about the living bread I'm kneading into a ball, but the more I think about the power of sharing a meal with someone, the more powerful I realize it is to share a meal with someone. I read a book last week called Mighty Stories, Dangerous Rituals, and was struck by one passage:
"Jesus literally ate his way through the Gospels. And, as remembered over and over again in the Gospels, they killed him because of the way he ate; that is, because he ate and drank with sinners. Apart from the many table tales, the Gospels also remember that Jesus spoke in table metaphors. When he wasn't at a banquet he was telling a story about a banquet. When he wasn't teaching that bread can be a vehicle of God's presence, he was talking about bread as a way to discipleship for those who wished to live as his body in the world."

Since I last posted on this blog, life has kind of been on high speed. I said goodbye to my dad, who died in June, and to my grandpa a month before him. We got married, and are talking kids. In the fall, I started working with LGBTQ youth, and have found a certain fire in my belly over the lack of care given to these youth. We have also planted a garden, and I'm learning how to ask for help, and to trust and forgive myself more (ever a process). Our church started a Supper Church service, where we gathered together to make a meal and worship around the table. I guess I say all of that because in a lot of ways for me, it keeps coming back to food. I could rant all day about the need for more active conversations in the church about the needs of LGBTQ people, or racism, or poverty, but there is something that happens if you can actually sit down at a table with someone whom you perceive as different--break bread with them, talk to them, give yourself the opportunity to really see them.

In thinking about my "living bread" moment earlier this evening, I think about this thing which is so very simple, and still relatively inexpensive to make. And yet, when shared (and especially when shared between people who allow themselves to be present to the act of sharing), it has the potential to be so rich and so full and, dare I say it, so alive.

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