(Note - This is part one of a two part series.)
Sitting in church one cool September morning, I glanced at the red cable-knit sweater I grabbed from the stack in my closet and saw the crispy white residue of bread dough on my sleeve.
"Oh, my!" I thought. "I forgot I wore this sweater when I baked biscuits last week. A dollop of dough landed on my arm and dried."
Baking biscuits is a longtime favorite activity - one that I complete prayerfully. Usually I light a candle while I gather the ingredients, reminding me I am always in God's presence. If the biscuits are for someone else, I pray for that person or family.
Earlier in the year, I was asked to bake bread for communion at church. I wrote about my experience:
"I hardly felt worthy to bake bread, because I was dealing with anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness and confusion as well as forgiveness in the tangle web I imagined my life. I was afraid all of my feelings would transfer to the dough as I kneaded."
"Baking bread is usually one of the ways I connect with God. Today, however, I was in a different state of mind. I went through the motions mechanically - not prayerfully or reverently - gathering and combining numerous ingredients, putting the smooth dough in my favorite brown glass bowl for the first rising. The bowl was the last of a nesting set we received forty years ago as a wedding gift. The bowl held thousands of batches of dough, but today's batch was the first to become the body of Christ."
"The dough rose twice. After the second rising, I molded two circles and put each one in a buttered aluminum pan. Before placing the pans in the over, I studied the loaves. In those mounds of flour, I saw all of the discontent in my life. I prayed that all of my negative feelings would bake out of me and go right into the heart of Jesus whose body I formed that day."
"The next day I walked into the sanctuary and found a pew close to the front in sight of the two oval forms of bread covered with embroidered white cloths resting in the middle of the altar. Then I recalled my prayer the day before as those loaves entered the oven. As I sat in the pew and examined my heart, I realized even before receiving communion, I felt peace. The negativity had burned away, my feelings now resting in Jesus' heart."
Although I have different feelings when I bake biscuits or bread, the candle I light reminds me that God takes all of me, however I am in that moment. God receives my heart, like the oven receives the dough, baking out of me those emotions that challenge. God replaces it all with peace, comfort or love.
Prayer: God thank you for the ways you use common tasks to come closer to you. All we complete can become a metaphor for life with you. Our stories are like your parables offering wisdom about the kingdom which we can experience at our finger tips. For touching you in baking bread, I give you thanks. Amen.