I’m now using Tuesday mornings to teach my children to bake, and in baking there’s nothing more basic than bread. This morning Alyosha and Silas proofed the yeast and waited for it to bubble. They wore their arms out stirring in the flour. They threw their whole bodies behind the kneading of the dough. They beat the risen dough down with their fists.
Bread is beautiful to me because it’s just as much metaphor as it is an actual, physical thing. For a time, I lived in community with refugees, and literal bread bound us together. An Eritrean woman spent an entire day teaching us how to bake injera. The Bosnian refugees shared a recipe that they created in the camps using only the sparest of rations: flour, water, yeast, salt. Every culture has a tradition of bread, and that bread is half bread and half story. When we share bread, we share stories. When we bake bread, we write our own.
Years from now, when my children remember these days, I hope they remember the bread. I hope they sense the stories that gathered when we pulled the golden loaf out from the oven, warm and soft and smelling, more than anything, like home.