Today marks a very small but very meaningful milestone in my life. It's the first time I've ever baked a loaf of bread from scratch - even from grinding the wheat! All the Shabbats I've celebrated over the past 15 years with delicious loaves of challah on the table, and until today I had never made one!
A precious 85-year-old friend and sister in the Lord invited me over for a morning in her kitchen, where she taught me hands-on how to grind wheat, and make poppy seed lemon scones, whole wheat sandwich bread and challah. I roll and kneaded dough and spread lemon curd on scones. Flour is all over the counters and flung across the floor! We sit and drank tea while the bread is rising and we talk about her life as a young girl when she first learned to make bread. I am transported back to a time when life was so simple and down-to-earth it is almost hard to imagine!
After tea she takes me into her back yard, where peach, cherry and apple trees are in full bloom, their fragrance filling the air. Her chickens cluck and peck and she finds a couple more eggs for tomorrow's breakfast. We meander around patches of strawberries, beds of radishes, peas and onions, and fences lined with blueberry and blackberry bushes. Everything is budding and growing and blossoming, and one's senses just come alive with the abundance the Creator has brought forth from the earth! As we pray every Shabbat, "Blessed are You, O Lord, who brings forth bread - and so many other wonderful foods - from the earth. He Himself is the Bread of Life!
We make our way back into the kitchen, peeking into the oven, and the perfectly braided loaves of challah are a shiny golden brown. I am so thrilled with my very first loaf! It is such a simple accomplishment, but I realize that the joy is in learning something new, something I have never done before. Why, I wondered. Why had I not found time in the busyness of life to learn to bake bread? Perhaps that's a lesson from this season. Slow down. Discover something you've always wanted to learn and do it. And whatever your hand finds to do, give God glory!
Kelly Ferrari Mills