The Yeast and the Wildness of Spiritual Life

yeast-dryI have mentioned several times on this blog that I'm exploring the art and science (more on this later) of making bread. There is something so spiritual - meaning "inspired" or "exhaled into" about taking raw materials and nudging them like strangers in an elevator until they come together to make something beautiful. Something good. Something true. Working on a recent batch of honey wheat bread, applying everything I've learned from YouTube and this hilariously irreverent book, I was struck by a thought that should have made me put down the spoon and walk away from the whole business.

I am not making bread. The bread is already made.

For some folks, this is too philosophical and "go-live-on-a-mountain-and-think-deep-things" to handle. Sounds a little Zen to me, Casey. Not sure we should head that direction.

It is true though - I took yeast, milk, honey, flour, warm water and salt and applied them in different measures and timings in order to make dough. Then, well, the mystery of all bread making comes to bear on us - will it now rise? 

Will the yeast feed on the sugars in the honey and the flour, comforted and encouraged by the warm water and warm location, so that what was a sticky mess may rise with air bubbles into a soft and workable sponge that is the redeemed version of the sticky former?

And then, the kneading - taking this fluff and punching it like a tentative prize fighter and rolling it firmly but not TOO firmly until it is smooth and elastic, dividing into loaves and letting sit another 45 minutes to an hour. Would it do the work? Would something good come from this violent, palm-first assault on the tender yeasty blob that is becoming muscular in it's own way?

No one knows. However, any bread maker will tell you that you suspend this thinking at the beginning - you merely work at creating the environment and let biology take it's course. We are not here to create from nothing - we are here to find the bread already made.

There isn't much difference between bread making and the soul forming journey of formation into Christlikeness. You don't make yourself Christlike - no, far from it - you simply create the environment and bring everything together in it's time.

The yeast of grace makes us rise even when we look like a sticky mess.

The warmth of disciplines like fasting, Sabbath and simplicity encourage and cajole us to rise when our body wants to drop the whole venture.

The kneading of tragedy and struggle make us elastic and ready to respond and be used, after a time, to feed others on the goodness and sweetness of difficulty well endured.

The oven of hope and resurrection provides that we will come out as something new - both here and now and later when the song ends and a new song begins.

The spirit is already formed, sweetly and poetically by the careful Carpenter's hand as it mended and stirred and kneaded the world into the shape of a good and lasting Kingdom.

Today, relinquish the foolish need to merely be original and bring together the ingredients that cause beautiful smells, an aroma to Christ, to rise from your life. Find the bread that God has already made.