If you want to rise…
It has been awhile since I’ve written a Soul Mending Society post and figured it was about time.
Especially since this is something that has been on my mind:
For more than a year now I have been teaching some Community Education courses on bread making. I love bread…I love eating it, making it, smelling it, talking about it, and teaching others how to make it. Plus because of the pandemic I’ve been able to teach all the courses over zoom from my own kitchen! (How fun is that?)
So bread really is my jam. (No pun intended.)
But the other day during my class the bread taught me a lesson, a lesson that I needed and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
Here’s what I learned:
For bread to reach it’s most perfect, most wonderful, most delicious state…it has to rise and for it to be able to rise it has to rest.
It goes like this:
The kind of bread I love, and make most often is made with yeast.
Yeast is a single celled fungus that digests food (sugar) to get energy for growth. Through digestion yeast cells convert carbohydrates into ethanol and carbon dioxide. When this happens inside of a bread dough mixture the ethanol releases a distinct flavor while the carbon dioxide forms tiny bubbles that cause the dough to rise.
Yeast is a finicky fungus though…it likes to be stored in a cool, dry location so it can hibernate….and much like Goldilocks and her porridge preferences …will only awaken when the environment is “just right”….not too hot or not too cold…a good rule of thumb is that yeast will do best in water that is about 95 degrees.
Once the yeast is hydrated, warm, and fed it needs time. Time to rest.
And so once it is mixed with all the necessary ingredients I cover my dough and place it in a warm, quiet location so it can “rest”.
And there it sits, all covered up and warm…as the world spins, as the homework gets done, as politics rage, as the laundry cycle finishes, as the wind blows, as the fundraiser continues, as the scandal breaks, as the texts buzz on my phone, as the social media comments get nastier…it just sits….”resting”…in the warm and quiet.
After some time I return to my dough to find that, like a miracle of biblical proportions, it has risen, expanded, enlarged, and doubled in size! I have enough dough to feed the masses! (Or at least my family.)
It is beautiful and ready for action.
I work the dough….usually braiding it into long loaves or knotted medallions and place it into the oven.
Soon my home is flooded with warm and comforting smells. My family congregates around the kitchen table and in no time we are filling ourselves with light and delicious, warm and tasty bread.
But…without being warm, fed, hydrated….and that critical time to rest my bread would never rise. Never come together, at least, to the beautiful, golden, final loaf that feeds my family…and myself.
And so the other night as I was instructing my class on the critical steps in bread making…warmth, hydration, coverings and rest time something caught in my throat…and I wondered when was the last time I had made sure that these critical steps were taken in my own life….being fed and hydrated, taking time to be somewhere warm and quiet while the word marches on….when was the last time I had taken the time to rest?
Bread class continued with these thoughts swirling in my mind and after it was over I reflected for a long time.
As I thought I was reminded of something I had read recently in a Brene Brown book:
…being intentional about cultivating sleep and play….and maybe rest?
Yes, yes I think sleep and play fall under the realm of rest.
As a mom who works from home, volunteers in her community and church group, has kids in school and various activities….life can be busy….especially during a pandemic when home suddenly became the office, school, activity center, base camp, etc. etc. etc.
Without knowing what was happening I was “on” all the time….wearing several hats at once…and not really ever stopping because “everything” was happening “here” so I could work pretty much all the time.
I’m not ashamed to admit…this took a toll. Especially when you factor in all the desires to help and volunteer for all the different groups and organizations that so desperately need it!
Which is why my bread class…that sweet bread class stopped me in my tracks.
Since that night I have been working to make a change. To become more, well…more like the yeast.
I have been working to eat better meals and to drink more water….but more importantly I have been carving out time to rest.
I’ve started painting again…a past love I haven’t done for years. I actually have an alarm set and a paint date with my 12 year old daughter and we paint twice a week for an hour….and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is. We turn off the phones and turn on the music and paint and talk and it truly is “rest” for my soul.
Painting was the first change….but then it has led to other changes….I took Facebook and all notifications off of my phone…and I made a rule that I get 30 minutes everyday of exercise alone (a walk, a bike ride, a run, etc)…there are a few more but what is “rest” for me might not be rest for you so I won’t list all the changes.
What I will do is say this.
The dang bread is right…if we want to rise to be our best, most delicious, self we need to rest.
Even if it takes time.
Even if we say we don’t have the time.
Even if it seems counter productive.
Even if there are dragons to slay and mountains to climb.
TAKE THE TIME TO REST.
Let the world spin while you quietly, personally refill your glorious vessel…then you will be ready and more capable to nourish others and yourself.
I swear it is so.
I swear it is so.
PS: Don’t think I didn’t see the lesson about quilts in all the bread rising business…I saw that! That dough….oh man…it loves a cozy little cloth to snuggle under while it rests. It is a necessity! And we all KNOW that quilts go hand in hand with resting and comfort and surrounding others with love so they can also rise refilled.
So…go get your rest! The world needs you and your quilts and your goodness!