Bread, Beauty, and Healing {Personal Reflections}

Yesterday was a tough day.

The days prior were not too lovely either.

But oh, this morning.

This morning, after a meditation sit,

I entered the kitchen and took one look at the beautiful sourdough

I baked last night, and all was well.

This is the sourdough I have been making for
family and friends for almost 25 years.

A beautiful soul in St. Louis shared
the family recipe, and what a gift it is.

It doesn’t come together quickly.

There is a lot of waiting.
It begins with a starter, stored in the frig
and fed weekly to stay alive.

Lately I have been baking the bread in an old brioche pan
which helps it look more artisan.

Everybody here loves cinnamon bread so I usually bake a loaf of that too.

I have had a love affair with dough my entire life.

During my childhood, my parents were busy in their career

as ministers and activists within The Salvation Army.

A family from Sweden in our neighborhood

who worked in the bakery downtown, took us kids under their wing

(I was allowed to help in the bakery’s kitchen where the magic happens!).

I remember being four years old and waking up one morning with fright

upon realizing I had forgotten to put my rising yeast dough

in the frig before bed.

As my 4-year old self rushed down the stairs,

I had this vision of discovering

the dough had risen all night long,

filling the entire volume of our little kitchen.

This morning when I saw the bread, I saw beauty.
And because my spiritual container is Christianity,
I saw the bread of life, the body of Christ.

While it may have been just another Tuesday morning
for you, for me it was kitchen church where a
small miracle happened in my soul.

I sliced the loaf, and it smelled so delicious
I felt compelled to cut a heart shape
from a slice, with a cookie cutter.
But I could not locate a heart shaped cookie cutter in my drawer of
baking supplies…Instead, I glimpsed a MERCI cookie stamp
purchased at the Merci boutique in Paris a few years back.

As I stamped the slice, I sort of felt my
heart stamped with MERCI at the same time.
I took a bite and then came undone.

These pics with the Merci stamped bread
were snapped quickly on my iPhone
in that moment.

I hope gratitude comes easy for you.
I hope your heart is etched boldly with
m e r c i.

But please know some of us must
fight extra hard to recover it.

It’s not that we don’t want to live in it everyday.

We do. In our minds, we know it’s everything.

But sometimes a variety of hurts, human frailty, and hunger
braid together, creating a barrier through which we cannot pass.

Sometimes depression is the barrier. Sometimes it is addiction. Sometimes it is shame.

It is often life’s twists and turns, the need to forgive,
anxiety, or unwellness of the mind and body
blocking the way.

Sometimes like the dough upon my kitchen counter, we must wait before we rise.

As soon as I tasted the bread,
gratitude returned in a precious flow with tears.
I suddenly remembered so many highs and lows over
the quarter century this special family bread
has graced our lives…how the bread has become
a symbol of love and connection.

My whole being felt awash in light and mercy.

I glanced down at the kitchen floor and saw the
little feather above, which may be goose down
from a pillow…I’m not sure…and I thought about
all of the things which give their life or feathers
or labor or freedom or tears
for our comfort, for our joy…

And this thought sent me spiraling into more
thankfulness and reverence for
the Divine DNA and Deep Mystery
inherent in every living thing.

Guys.

I am rich beyond measure with love,
and the reality of my wealth emerged
in one solitary bite of sacred sourdough.

Physically and emotionally, I have seen
easier times, where my heart was full
and dancing
with light.

But today’s daily bread came in my brokenness.

Today’s bread is re-teaching me how it is
possible to transcend, to awaken, and to surrender
to a trustworthy love that longs to make me whole.

After the spiritual breakfast of goodness,
I began to work on some re-organizing projects
long overdue.

And the work felt sacred.

This afternoon, the flow continued as our
family celebrated just the most beautiful good news.

And see, I don’t ever want to keep  this flow to myself
because my heart is full of love for you…

so in every word of this
stream of consciousness post,
and even in the white space between them,
I am sending you peace.

Right where you are.

~michele

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20 Comments

  1. August 3, 2016 / 12:10 pm

    Your bread sounds and looks yummy! Hope you have a wonderful day ♥

    summerdaisy.net

    • August 3, 2016 / 2:21 pm

      thanks for reading, lovely summer. xox

  2. August 3, 2016 / 6:59 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    The mirror in your back yard is etched in French. What does it say?

    Lisa

    • August 4, 2016 / 4:15 pm

      i painted this using a portion of a French poem stencil from Royal Designs. in English, roughly: Look at the boughs,
      How white they are,
      It's snowing flowers!
      Scoffing at the rain,
      The sun dries
      The weepy willow.
      And the sky reflects
      In the violets
      It's pure colors,
      The fly opens its wings
      And the dragonfly
      With the golden pupils,
      And the wasp-like corset,
      Unfolding its silky wings,
      Has resumed its flight.
      The water happily babbles,
      The tiny fish wriggles
      It's Springtime again!

  3. August 4, 2016 / 11:39 am

    Oh, this whole post just gave me goosebumps. So soulful and beautiful. It is a blessing to be able to see so much in the simple act of baking. I am so glad I stopped by for the time. Found you while reading Burlap Luxe. Have a wonderful day.

    • August 4, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      thank you so much, maria. i am so glad you visited. xox

  4. August 4, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    Just beautiful, Michelle! The sacred healing bread, the Body of Christ……what a wonderful message to all of us. Thank you and merci to you my friend!
    xo
    Holly

    • August 4, 2016 / 4:17 pm

      thx, holly. i cannot wait to share more of your work on the blog soon. xox

  5. August 4, 2016 / 4:25 pm

    Michele, this is so beautifully written. If only we all could have such gratitude and be able so find such peace. Your life path has allowed to to see and feel so much. Finding peace in the kitchen .. and seeing more than just a blob of dough. Thank you for this!

    • August 4, 2016 / 6:09 pm

      i think the key word in your comment for me is SEE. it's all i desire. to SEE with new eyes. xox

  6. August 4, 2016 / 4:33 pm

    I have pondered this post for two days. I love that you express yourself and your faith and gratitude so beautifully. The bread of life, the bread that you made and have for 25 years! Such beautiful memories.

    Have a fabulous day Michele.

    • August 4, 2016 / 6:09 pm

      you honor me, elizabeth. yours is such a beautiful soul. xox

  7. August 4, 2016 / 5:00 pm

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful dear Michele! Your post fed my soul today like you bread did you! Thank you!

    • August 4, 2016 / 6:10 pm

      it's you and your spirit that is beautiful. thanks for reflecting it here, yvonne. xox

  8. August 5, 2016 / 11:06 am

    As always Michele, your words make me think beyond the usual boundaries and give me pause to reflect on all that is important. Your spirit is so gracious and I appreciate so much knowing you. Many blessings coming your way sweet one.
    JoanMarie

    • August 6, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      your words are like honey, friend. xox

  9. August 5, 2016 / 1:17 pm

    What a beautiful post, Michele. Hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend! xoxo

    • August 6, 2016 / 3:32 pm

      merci, ladies. happy saturday to you and yours. xox

  10. August 15, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    Hello Michele, I'm catching up with your posts and I can't believe I didn't leave a comment here when I first read this beautiful, thoughtful post. I relate to so much in these words, the awareness of struggle and brokenness–which we all know–and the sweet serendipity of a random moment, (like biting into a warm piece of sourdough) that offers us a glimpse of truth. We are spiritually fed and nourished by such moments aren't we? Your 'Merci' photo makes my heart swoon. I hope things are getting better, it's been a summer of growth over here too, with lots of bumps in the road and humble words of prayer.
    xo
    Leslie

    • August 16, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      thanks, leslie. you describe spiritual nourishment beautifully. thank you for seeing. i'm still navigating the vulnerability hangover with this one and so many other tender writing projects which tap into fragile places in my soul.

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