Labor of Love

On December 24th, 2011 I spent the entire day in sweet labor of my first loaf of bread. Have you ever made whole grain bread?

Two weeks before the experience I bought the only used bread-making book in the store and lucked out with a very reasonable, experienced, and humble teacher for the endeavor. Illustrations of how-to and answers to common questions gave me encouragement and the healthy perspective of playfulness. Let go of the expectations of a particular perfectness! And most importantly, keep baking.

At each step I noticed I was willing for the the whole thing to fall apart. I felt sure this was the beginning of my baking at least two times a week, so what would a few crumbly or fallen loaves matter?  The book, my teacher, recommended making only ‘the learner loaf’ recipe for awhile to be better able to notice ongoing discoveries and differences, and make the most of the challenges that come up.

My first loaf of whole grain bread was delicious and turned out wonderfully! I was pleased and also wanted to be careful to be humble just like my teacher, knowing that each of ‘the learner loaves’ to come would be an important experience no matter what the result.

The practice of bread-making is so much like the practice of QiGong! The movement and meditation, the learning within the same form, the patience, the observation…

the non-practicing.

I haven’t made a loaf since.

It was a significant and enriching experience. I tell myself and others that I want to do it again, but I choose not to for all kinds of reasons. Not enough time! Maybe the flour I bought hasn’t kept well? I just bought a loaf from the store so after I finish that.

Baking bread may require clarity about what I really value doing and the follow-through or discipline to make it happen. Just like QiGong.