Friday, February 05, 2010

Bread and Water

I'm pretty certain I could live on bread and water. Now, I would miss my Diet Mt. Dew and I would desperately miss M&Ms, but I could live without them if necessary. Oh my goodness, though - I would have a very difficult time giving up bread. Some of my friends can't tolerate gluten in their diet. I'm fairly certain that I would have to murder someone if that were removed from me.


I remember elementary school lunches. If there was nothing better on the menu that day, the ladies always had bread and butter sandwiches and sandwiches with mayo and lettuce at the end of the line for us. I lived in those.

I adored Wonder bread as a kid. A bologna sandwich on Wonder bread with Miracle Whip? That's all it took to make me happy. I'd nibble off the crust, leaving as much of the inside as possible and then in my first bite I would suck all of the air out of the bread, plastering the entire thing to the roof of my mouth (I still do this if presented with bologna on Wonder bread by the way). Or I would squeeze the bread down into one hard little ball of dough (after removing the crust again, of course) and play with it in my mouth until mom yelled at me.

My Grandma Greenwood made homemade bread and when I got old enough, she and I would spend time together in the kitchen while she taught me how to knead it properly and be patient with the rising process. For a lot of my early life as an adult, I made bread as often as I possibly could with this method. But, one day I ran out of time and thus, my bread making came to an end.

With the advent of the bread maker, I got started again and I can't tell you the joy that comes from making a loaf of bread! To watch 7 simple ingredients turn into a slice of heaven is exquisite! The scents that emanate from my oven during that 50 minutes of baking almost make me high.

I finally realized (yes, I'm fifty and figured this out) that it is now my bread and if I want to destroy the look of the loaf by slicing into it while it is still hot, that's ok.

Dad told the story of discovering a hot loaf of bread resting on the table. The smell was too much for him. He turned it upside down, dug a hole into the bottom and emptied the bread out, enjoying every moment of it. He did have punishment coming when his mother discovered what he had done, but he still told the story with joy, not regret.

You know - I think Jesus knew what he was saying (other than the obvious) when He called Himself the "Bread of Life." Yes, He identified Himself with this because of the necessity that bread was as a staple in people's diets. But, all of the things that surround a loaf of bread ... mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, patience while rising, smelling the bread rising, sharing the bread with friends and family all are a part of the gift that comes with a loaf of bread.

And don't forget ... the crustiness on the outside often leads to tenderness on the inside. I've known a lot of people like that.

Yup, these are the thoughts going through my mind as I smell bread baking while writing like crazy today.

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