And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger ~ John 6:35
I do not like to cook. Cooking well requires that one pay attention. As Liddy once remarked in absolute disgust I will stand there & watch the dinner burn with utmost equilibrium.
I have always found much of life difficult & trying. Worse I have found a good bit of it boring & as Star has remarked on more than one occasion I do not do well with bored. The end result has been I have cultivated an extremely rich & exciting inner life but founder with the practicalities of life. I am rarely completely present, rarely live in the moment & do not get pleasure from mundane tasks that also require my attention ~ like cooking. Mundane tasks that do not require much thought are the joy of my life. I can happily think completely different thoughts to what I am actually required to do ~ with occasionally interesting results.
In this house cooking was a survival skill. All mine learnt to cook early & they cook well. Cooking, & particularly baking, was one of those things we saved for wet, rainy days when a houseful of small children began suffering serious cabin fever. Often the first activity was to set the dough for bread while we did the baking & the last thing we did was punch down the dough, knead it & shape our loaf for cooking the lunch rolls. With so many hands to help the kneading went easily & well & soon our kitchen was filled with the warm yeasty smell of fresh baked bread. I'm not much of a bread lover but I do like the end crust, still hot & slathered in proper butter melting into the warmth.
Bread, the staff of life, such a simple, basic commodity we take for granted yet on the night before He died Christ took bread & broke it. This simple, homely act passed into the Christian liturgy as the sacrament at the very heart of Christian belief & practise. Bread.
Bread is the symbol Penelope Wilcock uses in her discussion of gospel Simplicity: In Celebration of Simplicity; the Joy of living Lightly.
If you've ventured over to Pen's blog at all then you will already know her writing style is clear & direct & full of gentle humour. In the same vein she takes the elements of bread making & applies them to Gospel simplicity. Hers is a holistic view which sits well with my own views on what it means to live with simplicity. Simplicity is firstly a heart attitude that brings us to the place wherein Christ can begin to work in our lives. Like breadmaking itself it is a humble activity.
Breadmaking is an activity I understand. The elements of making a loaf are everyday staples that reside in most of our pantries: flour, oil, yeast, honey, salt. Like the yeast in bread simplicity is something that should permeate every aspect of our lives because it cultivates a heart attitude of concern for others more than oneself & responsibility for one's actions in & on the world we inhabit.
One of the joys of Pen's work is that she has taken the time to think carefully & deliberately about what it means to live simply because there are plenty of people around, & blogging about it too, who equate simplicity with frugality & end up with meanness of spirit. I do wonder how people arrive at their conclusions sometimes because biblically speaking God's blessing & abundance go hand in hand. Please note: I am not advocating prosperity preaching ~ at least not how she is preached in the majority of churches. I am talking about the be fruitful & multiply principle. When we choose simplicity we accept God's generosity ~ which may not be what we wanted or thought we needed but is lavish none~the~less. I was delighted to find Pen understands the idea of generosity within simplicity. When we need less of *things* we can accept more of time, more of people, more of God.
Pen is also careful to separate the outward practise of simplicity from the inner workings of the Spirit of God. One can *do* all the outward things yet retain a covetous heart. Personally I come apart on the doing aspect of things. I find the practical application really difficult in many areas. Cleaning out my cupboards requires time I would rather squander in other areas. The irony is if I did that one thing I would free myself to do more of those things I do enjoy. Pen includes many practical hints & tips but there is nothing the least legalistic in her approach. She understands breadmaking. Making bread requires time ~ not a lot in big chunks but a little over an extended period. Making bread requires patience. On a wet, windy, cold day the dough is going to take longer to rise but there is no point in moving on until the bread has risen properly because your bread will just turn into a hard lumpy mess that no~one at all will want to eat ~ not even the chooks. Trust me; we've tried this.
Lastly one of the delights of this book is the multitude of quotes that border each page. I'm a quote lady. I love distilled wisdom ~ something short & pithy that one can mull over as one goes about the simple everyday tasks. Truly this book is a complete delight. If you can get your hands on a copy I highly recommend it. I got mine from Koorong [the Australian Christian bookstore] but Amazon carries it & we all know they post internationally, right?