Has it been one of those days? The kind when discouragement is your companion all day long. When anxiety seems to follow you like a cat that’s been run over looking to you for a place to die. It may be your health. Worries over someone else’s health. Your job or lack thereof. Maybe your closest relationships have been on edge.
Everything needs a breath of faith. A booster shot of peace. Some days when we are fixated on hoping some problem will resolve, we need a reminder of the power of process.
My recommendation: bake bread. The real kind. Yeast, water, a little sugar, flour, salt, oil.
There is something visceral about baking bread. The feeling of taking basic ingredients and transforming them.
Its inherent creativity gives us a sense of accomplishment. Baking bread is not an instant gratification, the entire process reminds us to be patient; we can’t control things. We have to let things take their course. The good thing about bread baking is its course takes a couple of hours, whereas we have no clue with life’s other problems.
Start with the yeast. A simple creature, easily overlooked. These drab brown-grey granules are the size of sand. But when we give it a little coaxing, we awaken it. Yeast needs 4 basic things: sugar, warmth, darkness, and, most importantly, time.
First, by dissolving the yeast in warm sugar water, we start the initial prompting. The yeast eats the sugar and emits carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles fizzing to the surface. If the yeast is good, the bubbles will form a beige film on top and you’ll start to detect that quintessential yeast smell.
After about 10 minutes, we add ordinary staples. Nothing special. In fact, they are all quite bland on their own, but that’s what baking is, a creative act of combining ordinary items into something warm and comforting.
Kneading follows. It is the process of mixing it all together, creating a round ball of dough. Here’s the one act of baking bread that requires work.
Then we cover it with a dark kitchen towel and leave it alone. We have to trust that it will rise, but we have no power to hurry this process. The change is subtle at first, invisible, but after the rising time, we see proof of abundance, the dough has doubled in size.
Finally, we bake it, and the final transformation occurs. From the oven we take out a symbol of comfort and sustenance. In about 2 hours’ time we have a warm, fresh loaf of bread, a reminder of what can happen when we let something naturally run its course.