These days may be unsettling and uncertain, but we can be assured that God is with us, faithfully providing reassurance and love. My reassurance came recently when I decided to bake bread.
Like so many others, I am confined to my home as a preventative measure against the coronavirus. It has been more than a month now, and I have cleaned, purged, organized, and rearranged everything in my house. Then a wave of boredom swept over me. It was then I got the distinct urge to bake bread. I found a recipe calling for ingredients I had handy. The bread would take four hours and 15 minutes from start to finish. Well, I certainly had the time!
Baking the bread was a labor of love. I observed the yeast come to life as I added warm water and sugar. I carefully measured the other ingredients and watched a dough form. Just minutes ago, this ball of dough existed as separate ingredients in my pantry. Now it was ready to become something more, something bigger than its parts. After kneading, I carefully placed the dough into a bowl to begin the long process of rising. It would take three hours and two more kneadings before I put the risen dough into the pan to bake.
Forty-five minutes later, I peeked into the oven, bracing myself for either a raw mess or burnt toast. But to my surprise, I saw a loaf of golden-brown bread. I remember feeling relief and joy at seeing my finished product. “Look what I did,” I thought. I was delighted as I sat at the table with my husband and we shared the first piece of hot bread.
It wasn’t until the next day (while I ate another slice), that God gave me a moment of consolation and clarity. In that moment, I saw the bread as my life and God as the Baker. Just as all the ingredients came together to become bread, all my experiences, my highs and lows, successes and failures, have all come together to make me who I am. Even though my bread wasn’t the most perfect loaf, it was beautiful and perfect in my eyes. In that moment of consolation, I felt reassured that I am continuously formed and nurtured by God and that God is pleased with me as God’s creation in a much more infinite way than I am pleased with my creation of bread.
Like the Lord did for the disciples at Emmaus, God came to me “in the breaking of the bread.” In that moment, I felt God’s presence deep in my heart. I now have a new image of God. Along with Shepherd and Potter, I saw God as the Great Baker—a Baker who takes great care and joy in continually creating and nourishing me.
May your stay-at-home days afford you the opportunity to connect with God through whatever fills your days, be it painting, gardening, reading, or even baking bread.