Baking and breaking
The package arrived promptly. It was a USPS box in the shape of an over-sized shoe box. Heavy for its size, it had cost my cousin $12.55 to mail it from her home in Maryland.
My saliva glands kicked into overdrive because I knew what the package contained. Nut bread made from my Polish grandmother’s recipe.
My fingers attacked. The stubborn packing tape did not deter me. In a flash, I was reaching into the box and pulling out the loaf. I placed it in the center of the cutting board and shoved aside the foil and plastic wrap.
There was no time to admire it. With the flick of a wrist, my favorite chef’s knife split the loaf in half. Another downward stroke yielded a thick slab. I licked my lips.
With both hands, I lifted the slice of bread to my mouth and took a bite. Chewing slowly, I savored the taste of walnuts, butter, and sugar. I closed my eyes.
“Granny!” I sighed.
My body relaxed as I leaned against the kitchen counter.
Aesthetically, Granny’s nut bread (also known as kolache) is no food stylist’s dream. The loaf is mostly uneven. Actually kind of lumpy and misshapen. The few times I made it, it was dry even when fresh.
No matter. It was such a special gift.
Special, actually, in three ways. One was that my cousin honored my grandmother's memory by baking her special recipe. Two was that she was thoughtful enough to go to great lengths to mailing a loaf to me. And, finally, and perhaps best of all, that each bite brought back memories of the Christmas season and Granny's kitchen.
Granny made yeast rolls so light and sweet angels might swoon. And her cornbread was thin, crunchy and dripping with butter.
Bread, regardless of form, is the most basic of foods for human sustenance.
Baking bread is an act of love, as is the breaking and sharing of bread -- with friends, family, strangers.
Jesus may not have baked the bread eaten at the last supper, but with great love He broke it and He served it to His disciples. The loaf could not have been shared without first being broken.
It was with a love greater than the world has ever known, Jesus accepted His fate and, like the bread, He Himself was broken and He shed His blood “…..for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28) for all of mankind.
How can we ever look at a loaf of French bread the same again?
Back to the nut bread….
When I called my cousin to thank her, she was worried that the loaf may have dried out while in transit. When I told her that, upon taking the first bite, I uttered, “Granny!” she replied, “You could not have given me a greater compliment.”
We were both smiling when the phone call ended. I'm still smiling.
Lord, thank You that we can use this time to notice little things that remind us of Your great Love. Help us to use this time to grow spiritually as we place our trust in You and You, alone. Amen.