Last night I watched Jamie Oliver make bread. I am so appreciative of his speed in creating a programme which responds to our panic buying.
It also reminded me of my situation 25 years ago. I was a new mum with a toddler and a baby. I was in effect self-isolating on my maternity leave. I felt quite overwhelmed. I sent David out to buy take away meals on a regular basis. I did this out of habit because my mum did the same. From her mid-thirties she had been a single, working mum. Work and cooking and two children without family support were too much for her so cooking our meals went by the wayside. When I became a mum, I started off doing the same.
During my maternity leave, however, I was started watching, “Ready, Steady, Cook.” It dawned on me that if the chefs there could create a meal in 20 minutes, I could too—even with two tiny people. So I shifted, from buying so many takeaways to creating family meals—though not usually on a Sunday!
As I watched Jamie Oliver make bread, I remembered the therapeutic power of kneading bread, the slow and quiet power of the yeast making the dough rise, the beautiful smell filling the house while the bread cooks, the sound of the crusty bread being cut, and the wonderful taste of homemade bread. It is also evocative of sharing time together, so the bread connects me to memories of sharing meals with friends, family, and the family of God.
This is a slower time, a different time. So it is time for me to make bread. I have the time to make the dough, to knead it, to set it aside, to let it grow, and to bake it.
Perhaps making the bread is also a spiritual practice. What is it for you that connects you to God and others, that uses the time you have, that you never have time for otherwise? What touches all your senses the way making bread does? In the face of this crisis, what reminds us that life is good and full and joyful? Today it will be my loaf of homemade bread, shared with David, in the garden.