I tend to make bread on thursday mornings, its one of the advantages of having a very flexible working arrangement, that I can commit time during the day to things such as bread making, which allow a form of active meditation, labore est orare, as Benedict would have said.
This morning I made my usual batch of bread, which follows a very simple recipe, just using flour, water, salt, honey and yeast. I prove the dough twice, which means that for some of the process I am simply waiting for the yeast to do its thing. Apart from temperature variations, there is not much I can do to influence the speed of the bread dough rising, you just have to allow it to be slow.
In this way, bread making is an act of resistance. In being deliberately slow, one denies the implied and often stated virtue of speed and immediacy. In the amount of time it takes to make bread I could go out and buy any amount of pre-prepared bread, which is full of fats and chemicals to make it light, consistent, long lasting and cheap to produce.
I choose to resist this ‘tyranny of the urgent’ and make bread the slow way. Today I also started making some wine too, bramble wine from some fruit we picked recently. That’s a slow process too, again with simple ingredients, just fruit, water, sugar and yeast. I’ve left the fruit to steep (mashed) in the water, where it will stay for 24 hours before I strain it and add the sugar and yeast to allow fermentation to take place.
The aspect of making both bread and wine wasn’t lost on me, God bothering nut job that I am. Although I personally dont drink, my wife does, and I am glad to be able to make wine for her. Again its an act of resistance, involving simple refusals to bow to the demand for speed and urgency. The two shops below our flat are, ironically enough, an off license and a bakers shop. Bread and wine on my doorstep quite literally.
But I believe there is a God of slow things, who delights in yeast, an organism which transforms things from within, which changes the ordinary (flour and water, or fruit and water) into the extraordinary – bread or wine. Yeast takes time to work through its task, it goes slowly, you cant rush it.
There is so much to learn from the slow, in a culture where tv blasts images at us which change every five seconds, and instant results are expected from everyone at all times.
I believe in a God of slow things.