Back in early March I wrote about bread baking. About how the most simple recipe calls for 4 very basic and humble ingredients. Yet with care, proper handling, and patience, those basic ingredients turn into something wonderful…a pile of sticky goop turns into something golden…into love. You can read the original post here.
I’ve baked many loaves of bread since the start of the new year…for dinners with friends, Lenten soup suppers, communion, and Easter dinner; giving extras away to neighbors and friends. As I write this, I have a miche of extraordinary multi-grain baking in the oven for tomorrow morning.
About a month ago, I attended a retreat/conference…a gathering of pastors, priests, youth ministry leaders…and a couple of us soon to be. The focus was on confirmation, but we talked about many other things related to youth faith formation. Fearing a large group, I was happy that we were just under 3 dozen…large enough to have a variety of voices contribute to discussions, but not so large to get lost in the crowd.
One of the afternoons, Jenifer Gamber, one of the guest speakers, told us a story. A story of bread baking, confirmation, and faith formation. A story of how the ingredients are assembled and mixed, the dough kneaded and then left to rest and rise, then kneaded again and left to rise again. It’s amazing what happens. You can read the story she shared with us here.
So here I’ve been baking bread for the last 4 1/2 months, almost weekly, sometimes several batches in a week. And for the first several weeks (6-8 weeks) of the year, I was also adamantly saying no to the notion of taking on any responsibilities having to do with confirmation and youth ministry. That was just too big to take on, too much responsibility, too much everything. No.
But as flour, water, yeast, and salt transform into bread at the hands of the baker, so can the heart with the help of a mentor, prayer, and the Holy Spirit. Hand holding and finger-pointing, questions raised and long discussions. Mix the ingredients and give them time. Handle with care, patience, and love; give it more time and see what happens…could be amazing.
It seems to me I have a wonderful recipe to use as a model for this new undertaking. I love everything about baking bread. Trying a new recipe can take several attempts to get it right. It won’t be perfect at first, actually, it probably never will be…but that’s okay. It’s about the process, the transforming of basic humble ingredients into something amazing…into love. It will be my recipe as I begin to make my way down this road.