Bread of Heaven

This morning I arose early and decided I would make bread.  I wanted to give some of my home-made jam and a loaf of bread to the doctor who repaired my wrist allowing me to be able to make bread, by hand, for the first time in a year. 

The making of bread has always been sacred to me. There is something mystical about watching yeast bubble up, folding it into flour and then watching dough expand and grow. I have often listened to music or I would sing a chant when I bake but, because it wasn’t even 5 am I chose instead to repeat scripture and the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:9b-15 (NRSV) came to mind:

9b Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us to the time of trial but rescue us from the evil one. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Along with Matthew 13:33: He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

As I chanted the verses I made them my own and, in the process, I came to a quiet point, a still point of creation.  I felt the bread take form beneath my hands. Soft dough becoming elastic and springy, and rolled into a ball Then I allowed the mystery to take place as it swelled into a soft white pillow.  Taking that pillow and forming two loaves and baking them until they looked like gold was just as satisfying as any work of art. I was given a gift in the mystery of yeast, flour, milk, salt and butter. I offered the first slice of the warm bread to John, who pronounced it yummy.

I also offered my gratitude to the doctor who made it possible, I offered a prayer for the rain, soil, sun and farmers who nurtured and harvested the ingredients that went into the making.  My bread became holy, it became the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven.

My Mother Spirit who art in and about me . . .
       scald 2 cups of rich milk
Sacred is your name . . .
       add 2 T sugar, 2 t sea salt, 1 T butter until dissolved,
       set aside to cool a bit

Your beloved kingdom is like yeast . . .
       dissolve 2¼ t yeast, and ¼ t sugar in ¼ cup warm (110° t0 120° F) water
       in a large mixing bowl until bubbling
       measure out 6½ cups sifted flour, set aside

That a woman mixes in with her flour. . .
       add 3 cups of flour to the bubbling yeast and the milk mixture
       beat with a heavy spoon until the batter is smooth,

And in Your Kingdom  . . .
I will do Your will . . .
       add additional flour until a stiff dough forms
       and the dough leaves the side of the dough

As together we create Your heaven . . . 
       turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
       knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.

 Until all of it was growing and bubbling with love and joy.
       form the dough into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes
       butter a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl
       turning it so the top surface of the dough is covered in the butter
       cover and set aside, in a warm place until it has risen double in size,
       about 1 hour.

Give to each of us bread to sustain our lives . . .
       when doubled punch down and let rise again for 45 minutes
       until doubled in size.

Forgive us when we walk away from you . . .
       when doubled, punch down and divide in half
        and form into two loaves.
       place in greased and, lightly, floured bread pans,
       let rise until double, about 1 hour.

As we forgive those who in their fear and anger walk away from us . . .
       when doubled bake 35 minutes at 400°F
Do not bring us into a  time of trial,  . . .
       remove from oven and let cool before slicing

But deliver us from,
and teach us to do kindness for,
Those who would do us harm.
      
       Eat one loaf and give the other away.
Now and Forever, Amen

The bread recipe is from an old Farm Journal cookbook called Homemade Bread, A Belmont Tower Book, New York, NY, 1969.

Ruth Jewell, ©August 13, 2020

God’s Gift

God of the forest and field

God of the mouse hiding in tall grass.
God of the hawk, hunter of mice,
     food for her chick.
God of life nourishing life.

God of the coyote hunter of rabbits,
     food for her kits.
God of the rabbit, feeding on dandelions.
God of life nourishing life.

God of the creek to the ocean

God of salmon swimming downstream and up.
God of the Bear, fisher of salmon,
     food for the winter long.
God of life nourishing life.

God of the Osprey hunter of trout,
     food for her chicks.
God of the trout from cold mountains lakes,
God of life nourishing life.

God’s gift,
     life nourishing life.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 22, 2020

Olympic Peninsula, Hurricane Ridge, September 2003, by Ruth Jewell, The ‘fog’ is smoke from wildfires.

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (NRSV)

To whom were you speaking
when you created humans?
Who did you consult, an unborn Adam or,
other gods just stopping by
to see how you were doing?

I’m asking for a friend
‘cause I think you
need new consultants.

Ruth Jewell, ©July 10, 2020

Image: detail Michelangelo, Creation of Adam

A Walk in the Woods

Today, I went into the woods
cool shadows covered me
soft breezes kissed me
my footsteps muffled by last year’s leaves
I breathe deeply
scents of leaf, violet, and damp earth surround me
robin, finch, and woodpecker serenade me
rabbit, doe, and fox walk beside me.
I walked in the woods today
creation sang her glory
life in all her splendor surrounded me
The Creator held me in her arms

Ruth Jewell, ©April 14, 2020
Photo: The Guardian of the Woods

Cooking with the Holy Spirit

I stayed home from church today.  I stayed to make soup with the Holy Spirit. Not just any soup mind you, but my own Vegetable Soup. You know the kind, soup filled with chopped fresh potatoes, celery, carrots, turnips, garlic and shallot and fresh herbs.  All of them carefully chopped up into bit sized pieces.   

There is something comforting about chopping vegetables, watching the pile grow. Each vegetable adding their own special color, fragrance, and appeal to the pile.  Shallots and garlic add their pungent scents, while potatoes add earthiness and carrots and tomatoes add a bit of sweetness. I did notice that the carrot coins kept rolling around the counter as if they wanted to escape. Celery’s spiciness is always appealing to me. I love the color contrast between the red pepper and the parsley it always makes me smile and HS, that’s Holy Spirit for those of you not on speaking terms, said, “my favorite is the hot banana pepper you add in just the right amount to give a bit of heat to the soup. Please don’t tell Jesus that he thinks I’m weird.”  

HS, and I discussed the value of each vegetable and whether or not it was suitable for such a wonderful soup. We pared and peeled when needed and over-all we decided I had picked good vegetables from the market. HS also reminded me that I had some fresh tomatoes that would add a nice bit of freshness. These were the last from my garden, so I offered a prayer and HS blessed them. I mean you can’t have too many prayers or too many blessings, can you?

I then went out into my garden and HS and I picked rosemary, sage and fennel. Thanking each one for their contribution to the soup.  We only took a little of the thyme because it needs to grow a bit more, it’s a bit over picked, and HS said the basil was just too tired and needs to go live with her now. 

HS asked if I had any frozen or canned vegetables available and looking through the freezer, I found a packet of squash and peas adding them to my growing pile of vegetables. In the pantry, I found corn, beans, and garbanzo beans which when rinsed to remove excess salt (who wants that in their soup) added them to the bowl. 

After browning the shallot and garlic, adding chopped fresh turmeric and a couple strands of saffron (yes. I use saffron) I dumped all of the chopped, frozen, and canned veg’s into the pot along with vegetable broth, water, and all of the chopped herbs.  HS asked me “will you be adding the secret ingredient” and I said “Shhh, If I tell it wouldn’t be a secret.”  HS blessed our efforts and our soup is now simmering to wonderful goodness.  We are currently considering baking a loaf of bread.

I suppose you think I am weird, imagining I am cooking alongside the Holy Spirit. Well one, I don’t care what you think, and two, how do you know I wasn’t.  You see I often feel I am not alone, that someone walks beside me, or sits with me as I read. I guess I could be insane, but I rather think that it doesn’t matter.  I sit and meditate, I offer prayers, and they must go somewhere don’t they. So why couldn’t the Holy Spirit come and spend time with me as I cook?

I’m not one to run around and brag or tell people “Jesus saves” (he doesn’t by the way, but I’ll save that thought for later). I rather let what I do and say inform people. I will share this soup with others, guests, (Luke hint, hint) and of course my husband will enjoy our efforts.  I have been known to take soup to those who need it because feeding others always brings a smile to their faces, and mine, besides it is a mandate of the Holy Spirit. 

To create something that will nourishes others is such a wonderful feeling.  To feel the vegetable in your hand, pick it from the ground or vine gives me a connection with all creation. I know where my food comes from, how it was grown I watched the sun shine on the baby plants and the rain water it. I watched as the bees pollinated my tomato blossoms and herb blossoms and we shook the dirt off of potatoes, carrots, and onions, so yes, I know where my food comes from and who to thank. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with the HS to offer my thanks for food that feeds my body as her presence feeds my spirit.  So, if I think the Holy Spirit is right there with me in the kitchen it means I know who to thank for all I have received. 

“Ah, Ruth”

“Yes HS”

“Why not share your recipe and a prayer, now that you have made everyone hungry?”

“What a wonderful idea.”

“Ok, here is my Basic Vegetable soup recipe for you to change up and make your own.”

My prayer for you is:

Holy Spirit, we ask you to bless the ground that nourished our vegetables, the sun that shone upon them, and the rain that watered them. Bless the hands that harvested and carried them to us and bless the hands that prepared them.  May this soup bless our bodies as you bless our souls. AMEN

Ruth’s Vegetable Soup
(This recipe freezes well)

4 cups vegetable broth or 2 cups broth and 2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Vegetables: (all vegetables are optional, add meat if you wish)

Potatoes, diced
Turnips, diced
Carrots (diced), Peas, Corn either Fresh, frozen, or canned
Celery, diced
½ of a small to medium shallot, diced
1-3 garlic cloves, minced,
1 15oz. Can diced tomatoes
1 or 2 medium fresh tomatoes, diced
½ to 1 red pepper, diced
Either 1-3 small hot banana Peppers, or 2 chipotle peppers, (+1 to 2 tsps. adobe sauce), Diced

Spices and Herbs: (change up the herbs to your taste)

1 teaspoon dry Turmeric or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh Turmeric
few threads of saffron
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
½ teaspoon Herbs de Provence
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
2 fresh bay leaves
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt the oil and butter in a large soup pot, add the onions and garlic. Add the turmeric and saffron, cook until the onions are soft and golden.  Add the celery and peppers to the pot stir until covered in the turmeric liquid.  Add the rest of the vegetables, broth (or broth/water), herbs and spices.  Simmer for 1 to 2 hours until all vegetables are “al dente.”  Serve hot with fresh bread. If you wish top with sharp cheddar cheese and chives.  

Note: This is an easily modified recipe.  You can add squash, or other vegetables, or change herbs or spices (I use Turmeric because of its anti-cancer properties). Fresh Parsley is lovely.  You can add meat to this but I am a vegetarian so that is problematic for me.

Ruth Jewell, ©October 13, 2019

Never Forget – Prayerful Tuesday

Working Military Dog
Working Military Dog

Yesterday was Memorial Day, the day we remember the service of those who have fought our wars and protect our borders.  We sometimes forget there are more than men in the line of fire. Women are now serving in positions where they too are potentially at risk.  And, there have always been animals, pigeons, and dogs who have laid down their lives for a cause they cannot understand and they do it for the love of the soldier partner.   Today I am asking you to remember in prayer those faithful winged and 4-footed creatures who have willingly give up their lives.

  • As You gaze at the picture take a deep breath and let it out slowly, take a second breath and let it out slowly, let your shoulders relax and your gaze soften.
  • Look deeply at the picture and let the colors and image enter your imagination. What feelings does this bring to the surface?  What memories or stories?  Imagine you are walking are a soldier whose lives and works with this faithful dog, what does that look like and feel like to you.
  • Respond to the image with a prayer for all God’s children who serve in dangerous places on this earth.  Offer a prayer of intercession and gratitude for the service men, service women, and service animals who protect us while we sleep.
  • Continue to gaze at the picture, breathe deeply and rest quietly.  Let God pray in you in silence beyond words.

Ruth Jewell,  ©May 27, 2014

Let There Be Light – Prayerful Tuesday

Auchmithie Milky Way, B&B Photography, 14.05.04
Auchmithie, Scotland Milky Way, B&B Photography, 14.05.04

“And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to light upon the earth.”  Genesis 1:16-17 Walking at night has always been one of my favorite things to do.  I grew up in the country and I have seen the Milky Way spread across the sky with my own eyes.  This picture taken on a Beach in Scotland reminded me of how beautiful the Universe is.  It is because of stars we are alive. We are made of star dust and a star warms our earthen home.  We owe our very existence to the life giving power of stars.  Gaze into the picture, look deep into the mystery, do you see yourself, looking back.  When the skies are clear (I know that is difficult to find here in the Northwest) take walk outside.  Gaze at the star studded sky and dream.

  • As You gaze at the picture take a deep breath and let it out slowly, take a second breath and let it out slowly, let your shoulders relax and your gaze soften.
  • Look deeply at the picture and let the colors of the night sky enter your imagination. What feelings does this bring to the surface?  What memories or stories?  Imagine you are walking on a star studded night, what does that look like and feel like to you.
  • Respond to the image with a prayer for God’s entire universe.  Offer a prayer of intercession and thanksgiving for the abundance God has graces us with.
  • Continue to gaze at the picture, breathe deeply and rest quietly.  Let God pray in you in silence beyond words.

Ruth Jewell, ©May 20, 2014

Creation’s Joy – Prayerful Tuesday

happy mouse

 

One of my favorite things to do when I am sad is to take a walk, preferably in a wooded area, but I have been known to find beautiful sits as I walk down a sidewalk.  Gazing at nature scenes is free for the looking whether you are walking through a forest or down the street.  There is so much beauty and so much delight that it can take your breath away.  This week and next week I am going to use pictures from nature as focus for Visio Divina.  Enjoy looking at the pictures, laugh with the little mouse, enter into the joy of prayer with all of creation.

  • As You gaze at the picture take a deep breath and let it out slowly, take a second breath and let it out slowly, let your shoulders relax and your gaze soften.
  • Look deeply at the picture and let the colors and little mouse enter your imagination. What feelings does this little fellow on a flower bring to the surface?  What memories or stories?  Imagine you are walking down a trail and come on this happy mouse, what does that look like and feel like to you.
  • Respond to the image with a prayer for all of God’s creatures.  Offer a prayer of intercession and thanksgiving for the abundance God has graces us with.
  • Continue to gaze at the picture, breathe deeply and rest quietly.  Let God pray in you in silence beyond words.

Ruth Jewell, ©May 13, 2014