On Baking Bread and Remembrance

The last few days have been incredibly difficult ones for me.

On days like today, when my heart is heavily burdened, when my thoughts are clouded and my spirit is grieved, I find myself drawn to performing simple tasks with my hands.

Today I turned off the television, turned away from social media, did my best to shut out all the distractions and baked bread.

 

There is something about the process of baking bread– the taking of simple ingredients like flour, water, and yeast; the working of dough in one’s hands and making something wonderful out of it– that helps to order one’s thoughts and soothe a troubled soul.

Our lives require more silence than we’re typically given. When I was younger I avoided silence at all costs. Now I find myself seeking out the few moments I can get.

The resting of the dough reminds me to take time for silence, for reflection, for prayer.

 

The last few days I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my Lola and Lolo— my grandparents. Little things remind me of them, like the brooch worn by a dear friend on Saturday. She loved my Lola and Lolo, too.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to talk things over with them.

To have them speak into this situation with their many years of wisdom. I do my best, but sometimes we all need the guidance of those with far more experience than we have.

I’ve been thinking back over conversations I had with them, trying my best to hear what they would say to me now.

I suppose that at times we’re forced into wisdom through trial-by-fire. Through having to make difficult decisions, sometimes without the counsel we would like, only to discover our fate later down the line.

I remember my Lolo extolling the virtues of bread and peanut butter smeared with the thinnest layer of mustard. I thought he was totally bonkers for trying to get me to try that combination. (After all, Lolo was nothing if not quirky.) But my adventurous taste buds won out and I tried it, and indeed he was right.

I would have preferred today to use a spicy brown mustard, but all I had in the house was basic yellow, so it had to suffice.

I wish that today I could have invited them to my house, to break bread alongside them at my table. Served with peanut butter and mustard. Maybe with a strong bleu cheese and Dove dark chocolate. Those were Lolo’s favorites. I’d sip tea with my Lola from the tea cup she gave me, and we’d talk and laugh and cry, and they would tell me the right thing to do in this situation. They, of all people, would know the words to say.

Instead I sat and remembered them over my bread and tea, and broke bread instead with my son. Who knew 3 year olds would beg for mustard on their peanut butter? I hope one day to have the wisdom to counsel him when he faces situations which seem to have no good answers. I know first hand how much it means.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The recipe for the bread I used is from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you’re interested in making artisan bread but feel intimidated by the process, I highly recommend this book. While I only made half a recipe and baked it all at once today, the dough is designed to be stored in the refrigerator for up to 14 days, allowing you to take some dough out at any point and quickly baking a loaf of bread as needed. If you’d like to try out their basic recipe, it can be found on their website here.

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