This post is a part of my 2017 Lenten Bread Series. Click here to see the series in its entirety.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and incredibly independent. I’ve already admitted that I hate letting go of control, so I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I prefer to have everything together and in its place before I invite others into my life.
I love to study hospitality and the importance of community, and I love to preach about the importance of sharing imperfection with others. But the truth is I am terrible at putting it into practice. I’m embarrassed to serve to others anything less than my best—which I tell myself is simply a matter of doing all things as for the Lord rather than harboring deep pride.
But my purpose in baking bread for Lent was not just to bake as spiritual discipline. It was to bake with the purpose of giving away, an offering for my neighbors whom I hardly even know. I debated when to transition my Lenten writing from lessons in baking into reflections on giving away. One week of recipes and troubleshooting tips, I thought, then we’ll be ready to share. But one week turned into ten days and I realized I still had not covered all of the important tips to guide you into bread perfection. Now two and a half weeks later I still have more tips I want to tell you, but I’ve nearly forgotten this original Lenten goal.
So I hope that together we can transition into a habit of letting go of perfection and inviting others into our mess. Even as our starters are still struggling to bubble in the winter cold, and our loaves of bread are misshapen and ill-formed, can we together commit to giving away a portion of the bread we bake? Perhaps for now it means sharing with roommates or partners or family or very very close friends. Perhaps it means breaking into the brick of un-leavened dough and collaborating on what else it could be (bread pudding? croutons? French toast?).
Perhaps giving away something less than the best is not so difficult for you as it is for me. But I fear that unless I transition into a habit of giving away right now, it will only grow harder to work the practice into my routine.
So today as we bake, let’s envision the folks who will feast on the bread we make. Pray that as this bread nourishes them and hopefully brings them joy, it will knead out our own pride, independence, and need for perfection (or at the very least, pray that it will do so for me!). Pray that as we give the works of our hands away, we will invite others to share their imperfections with us too.
Remember that bread is incredibly forgiving, and hopefully our friends and neighbors are too! Remember that as simple as a basic sourdough might be, we’ll be learning and improving forever. Bake your bread to give away, and Wednesday we’ll get back to baking lessons.
Let me know in the comments below how your loaves are turning out! I’ve heard from some who are struggling (winter weather really is a beast!). If you still have more questions after last week’s troubleshooting tips, share them below and I’ll be sure to cover them in future posts.
If you’d like to contribute a reflection on baking, sharing, or learning the habits of imperfection, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'm looking to start incorporating your reflections next week.