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.
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
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
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
“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)
Carrots (diced), Peas, Corn either Fresh, frozen, or canned
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
and Herbs: (change up the herbs to your taste)
1 teaspoon dry Turmeric or 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh
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
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.
I wonder if one of religions biggest difficulty is that we
cannot respond to joy. We remember and celebrate our failures but do not
remember or celebrate our successes. In the Hebrew bible it is the battles that
are recorded not the moments of peace. In the Christian New Testament, it is
the pain and sorrow that is highlighted not the holding of a child or the
details of the wedding. We live a
Yes, there are moments in scripture where joy can be found
but if you stack them up against the moments of violence you will discover that
violence tips the scale. In Christianity
the most important holiday is Easter, the resurrection, but it is Maundy
Thursday, and “Good” Friday that receives the press. The return of
Jesus must have been incredibly wonderful, people must have been overjoyed. But
that is not what we hear.
Why are the happy
times, the good times not news? Today the only things on news shows of any kind
are who killed who, who challenges who for power, who hates who. That is not the world I want to live in, but
it appears that is the world we have created from the very beginning.
Violence seems to be hardwired into who we are. Our earliest
ancestors survived on meat killed by their own hand or by other predators. I
get that, I understand the need to eat and feed our families, but there is
always a but isn’t there, the vast majority of humans don’t need to kill to
eat. Most of us can go down to the local market and get what we need. Yes, food inequality exists, and it does so
because we have people who feel they are the only ones and “hoard”
resources. There are enough resources on
this planet to feed every man, woman, and child without letting anyone suffer,
or go hungry.
We have that inequality because we have people who claim
ownership to more than they need and we have others who will fight, even kill,
to get their share. Not a pretty picture of humanity, the supposed children of
God. The prophets, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad all tried to change us from
petty, hording, selfish people. We haven’t listened, we continue to be selfish,
we continue to champion and celebrate hate and violence, and we continue to
destroy the planet we live on for our selfish, violent ends.
But, again with the but, If, just if, we imagined a world
where violence didn’t exist what would it look like? What if we celebrated the
joy of life lived with each other, what if we celebrated the joy of living on a
planet that is amazingly beautiful and filled with joy? How would that world
look like, what would we look like? What would our communities look like? You
know I can’t imagine it because I have no words for that kind of joy, that kind
of celebration, that kind of love. Imagination doesn’t need a written word, but
it does need visual ones and within our human existence there are no words,
visual or written, that can describe that kind of life. That makes me sad, very
So much of our lives are made up of survival, of protecting
ourselves from what is outside our door that we have forgotten life in the “Garden”
where fear and hate and struggle were unknown.
I hope we never make it to the stars or find people on other planets
because we in our infinitely violent, stupid, selfish ways would destroy them.
All of this doesn’t mean we should stop recognizing
suffering and be modern day Pollyanna’s. No that isn’t what this all about,
rather it’s about ignoring the good in this world, pushing it aside to revel in
sorrow, in violence, in pain, and in hate.
When we push joy aside and only focus on the non-joy (is that a word?)
we make our lives smaller and we choose to live lives that are less significant.
We are approaching what should be a time of great joy in the
Church calendar. Advent and Christmas should be a time filled with joy of
anticipation of new life. We should be celebrating what will come from
welcoming the joy of the Eternal Holy Spirits gifts. We won’t though will we? I
have grown to hate Advent and Christmas because I see too much selfishness, a
selfishness that locks out most of the world’s poor from a share in that joy. At
this time of the year we share with those less privileged and then forget about
them for the rest of the year. At this time of the year we give, often
abundantly, not as an act of grace, but to clean our souls. Jesus taught the
joy of giving from our abundance was supposed to happen all year long, every
day, every hour. Somehow, we’ve forgotten that.
We humans are the youngest of the species on this planet and
unless we change how we view the world we will not survive to be the oldest,
and we will take the rest of creation with us.
I hope that will not be the legacy of the sad, strange species called Homo
sapiens, sapiens, my fear is it will be.
And now faith, hope, and love abide,
these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
FAITH, HOPE, LOVE
faith, hope, love
in faith an elderly Priest and his wife
waited for their first child
in faith a maiden utters the words
“Here Am I”
in love a child leaps in the womb
at the approach of the pregnant Mary
in love a bridegroom
takes a pregnant girl as his wife
in love Mary lays
her first born in a manger
in love the angels sang
and a star appeared
in hope the shepherds
came to the stable
in hope Magi followed a star
to kneel at the feet of a carpenters son
Faith, Hope, Love
all three were needed
for the greatest of miracles
but it was Love that conquered all
— Ruth Jewell, December 21, 2015
Meditations for a Mindful Advent
Queen Anne Christian Church
Slow down . . . seek hope
Buy less . . . create peace
Eat less . . . embrace joy
Worry less . . . give love
Prepare your heart for new birth.
An Advent Prayer
God who causes stars to burn and energy to flow,
may Your presence be made known to us in new ways.
When we wonder where You are, shine Your light in new ways.
When we wonder why bad things happen, help us to find all of Your Goodness.
When we feel hopeless, help us to become Your hope in the world.
You have created us out of stardust, and breathed into us life.
In You, all things are possible, and all things are created new.
Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, as we await the birth of the light of Christ
may we come to You in new ways on this journey of faith. Amen.
Love – The Fourth Week of Advent Light four candles and pray “an Advent Prayer.”
Meditation Snowflakes, leaves, humans, plants, raindrops, stars, molecules, microscopic entities all come in communities. The singular cannot in reality exist. — Paula Gunn Allen
All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy. — Rainer Maria Rilke
Morning: In anticipation of the day, call to mind the people you will meet.
Evening: As the day ends, where did you tarry, where did you glimpse the holy?
Offer a prayer for those in need of Love; include yourself
Genesis 1:1-5:1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5 is one of my favorite scriptures and I have read, and reread it many times. I can imagine the pleasure God had at that first light because light always gives me pleasure. To see the sun rise in the morning gives me great pleasure. The sky goes from velvety black to a dark blue and the birds begin their morning song. Then the first threads of sunlight break free of the horizon and begin to paint pinks, violets, and rose in the sky. The color increase to oranges, and yellows until the Earth turns just ever so slightly and the first sliver of the bright sun is visible. Now there is a grand chorus of bird song to add to the majesty of the morning. For me that is pure magic.
I grew up on a farm in Ohio and before dawn I went out to feed, cattle and horses. In the dark I would stop and watch for the incredible start to the day. I simply love morning! I love the return of light! At those moments I can understand how ancient peoples came to worship the sun. To them it was magic; they didn’t know about the earth’s rotation, they weren’t even sure that the sun would return. For them the welcome sight of the light of day meant they had survived the time of dark and fear and now there was light and hope.
Light warms our home, Earth and produces the chlorophyll for plants to grow and provide the food for all of us animals, humans included. Light, warm light, life giving life. The very air we breathe is dependent on light and the process of photosynthesis. Our very lives depend on the light that comes from our medium sized star we call the Sun. Without the warmth of the light our planet would be a cold and barren hunk of rock without life. God breathed the breath of life over the waters and that breath was preceded by light.
Now our planet, in its journey around our sun, is tilting it’s northern face once again away from that life giving, warming light and that means shorter days and longer, colder, dark filled nights. Oh I know the darkness has its place. It is a time of rest and renewal for plant and animal alike. And as a person who has lived with the land I know plants and animals need that time of rest, whether it is one short night or the long winter nights. But I am a creature of the day and already I yearn for the warmth of the spring morning when the sun rises with the trumpet of bird song.
On December 21st I will rejoice and offer a prayer of gratitude as the earth once again tilts the northern hemisphere back to the sun. Spring will come again, just as it has every other year. I will watch with growing anticipation the shortening of the night and lengthening of the days. And when that warm spring morning comes the birds and I will be there to welcome the return of the light.
May the light of God and the Universe give you joy this day.
Psalm 126:2a our mouths shall be filled with laughter,
our tongues, with songs of joy
Last Christmas Day my gift from Santa was a pinched nerve in my back. Apparently our dear Santa thought that was either funny or I was really bad last year. Actually the problem is due to the fact that we humans stand upright. If we still walked on our knuckles like other apes we would have fewer problems. But then we wouldn’t be able to see over the tall person, in the tacky Uncle Sam hat, during the 4th of July parade would we.
Any way I digress. What I am trying to say is in order to deal with the pain I have rediscovered the value of laughter as a spiritual practice. Like the little mouse above I have learned the grace of sharing my joy at being alive instead of being the grouch my beloved John says I can be. After all what does he know he only lives with me?
Spending time finding joy in all that is around me, offering that joy as prayer, and letting the response of joyful light to enter deep within does much for my own spiritual well being and for the life of those around me.
I am not the first to promote laughter as a spiritual practice, remember I said I rediscovered this practice. But it is one we forget when life overwhelms us. Taking ourselves seriously is important but it is also important to not go to the extreme. No matter what we do, how we feel, or how badly things have gone there is always something to laugh at, even if it is just ourselves.
Before you all get your knickers in a knot I want you to know I am not making light of those who fight depression every day of their lives. Because depression isn’t a choice it’s an illness that needs to be addressed. Caring for and helping those who fight mental illness is also a spiritual practice and an important one and something we all need to do.
However, for those of us who are fortunate not to experience depression learning to laugh, to find joy in life, and to bring joy to others is a spiritual practice, a spiritual practice that helps us all to not take ourselves too seriously. For me laughing at life in general and discovering the joy in simply living each day brings me closer to God, who, I am sure, is laughing along with me.
Today I challenge each and every one of you to find something that brings you joy. May your joy be your gift others and may it be a door to a deeper inner joy where you and the Holy Spirit have a good laugh.
Micah 6: 8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Well the New Year is almost upon us and it has been an eventful, but mostly violent, one. In 2014 it seems we have had more violence than peace, despite the efforts of many. We have seen hate take over our streets and increase in our government. Peace on Earth just doesn’t seem to be in our hearts for this baby New Year.
This last year we have seen too many senseless deaths, demonstrations, hateful rhetoric, and downright meanness. There has been little peace in our world of late. But this small online community has been a refuge for some. We have offered moments of personal stillness in the rush of our daily lives. Yet in the face of so much violence prayer doesn’t always seem adequate does it.
But, every time we take a moment to offer a pray for our own peace and for the peace of others we change a piece of our hearts. Those changes add up and become the change we see around us. We just celebrated the birth of love breaking into the world. A love that gives out of its abundance, works for justice for all, and walks a path that honors the world we live in. In the light of that love we too can become love expressed in the world, with every prayer we offer and with every prayer action we take, the light of Love shines just a little brighter. Yes it may seem inadequate but remember you can’t have a beach with one grain of sand.
So my prayer request for each of you this week, as you contemplate the year past and look forward to the year to come, is to offer a prayer for our community that we will find solace in our hearts and compassion and justice in our actions. Pray for each other. Pray for local, national, and international governments. Pray for the children, elderly, and the sick and disabled who are most affected by hate speech and actions. Let your prayers spill over into the way you act in the world around you. Remember others are praying as well, you are not alone. Let every act you do in the coming year be an act of prayer, and offering to the God or Force that guides your path. Let this be your New Year’s resolution that you will “do justice, and … love kindness, and … walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NRSV).
It is my prayer that, we as a people, will change the world by being the Force in the world for compassion, justice, and love. Let us learn to walk humbly with whatever Divine Energy each of calls to in the dark. May each of us this year light a candle of hope each day and let our light shine.
Happy New Year Everyone and may the Love of the Divine be with you in the coming year.