Saturday, February 25, 2012

Speaking of Bread

All those prayerful words yesterday about bread made me pull out one of the cookbooks in the friary kitchen today to try my hand at baking a handsome loaf.

I believe I have succeeded. It was basic white bread -- nothing fancy. Just flour, water, oil, milk, sugar, salt, and yeast ... and the work of human hands. I was quietly thrilled that everything that happened, happened according to the recipe. The dough stiffened as I folded in cup after cup of flour. It also gave way under the force of my hands, the bones of my knuckles, the meat of my palms, becoming soft and elastic. I was delighted when, an hour after setting to rise, the dough doubled in bulk. It rolled and shaped into a loaf with ease. After an hour in the oven's high heat, it had been transformed, given a golden brown crown, a firm crust, and a pleasing aroma.

It looked like bread, it felt like bread, it smelled like bread. This evening I cut and buttered two slices. It tasted better than any white bread I can remember.

We do not live on bread alone. But give me the Word of God and the two-pound loaf I baked today, and I could sustain through many hungers.


A gusty day in Brooklyn, and the wind is still whipping the trees tonight. I went out only to run an errand at the post office. Otherwise, I've been guarding the friary, baking, praying, exercising, and backtracking through correspondences. My sabbath day.

Only one irritating moment today. I could not concentrate at the hour I recited evening prayer: for some reason, the bells at St. Michael-St. Malachy next door sounded for twenty minutes, from five on the hour until twenty after. That's not a call to prayer; that's obnoxious. What a nuisance. I'm still miffed over it. Next time I see the pastor or church staff, I will ask why the bells were rung for so long.

Ah, well. If only overlong calls to prayer were the greatest of our problems. The world would be a much better place.

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