I learned how to make bread in a valley nestled between the Red Cloud and Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Two summers spent as an assistant cook at a youth wilderness camp provided ample opportunity to practice combining water, yeast, flour, oil, honey, molasses and a bit of salt. I learned to knead the dough smooth. I learned to form the dough into uniform loaves and how to tell when to take them out of the ovens. For good measure, I learned how to carry 50 pound sacks of whole wheat flour down a narrow staircase and how to keep mice from getting into the storage room. We used a bread recipe that made seven loaves at a time, and I eventually became pretty capable of turning out something edible for the camp guests. There’s not much better than homemade bread to come home to after spending all day on a mountain trail. I remember thinking that the bread we made gave everyone just that much more energy and provided just that much more comfort than something commercial would have been able to. And the kitchen staff had really strong forearms from all that kneading.
After those summers of baking bread everyday for three months straight, you’d think I would have continued the practice. But I didn’t. Instead I went back to college after each summer and baking fell promptly off the radar in the wake of studying, the local pubs and life in a dorm room. Continue reading “Bread”
It’s not just schools that often lack gentleness. Workplaces can rub us raw too, as can public transit, shopping malls, restaurants, and daycare. The levels of noise, advertising, and stressed-out people dealing with other stressed-out people can leave us feeling bombarded and drained.
Creating more spaces of refuge, like public parks, is one option. But another option is to integrate gentleness into all our spaces and daily interactions. It could be something as small as turning down the music in cafés. Or as radical as a mother making the commitment to care for herself with as much tenderness as she does her family.
[and at the end of the day]…
It is me saying to myself: “I’m so in awe of you, I must treat you as if I truly understood what noble means.” It is me saying to others: “I get it. We’re wounded and taking a thousand risks simply by showing up. And I see that. I honor you.” ~
Gentleness forms the under-song of survival — the hidden face of evolution, wars, famine — and the partner of resilience. It is the loving touch that reminds us we are not alone, and there is hope. There is healing. Gentleness exists between people. And it dwells within each of us.
How do you cultivate gentleness within yourself? When encountering others?
What does love mean to you?
Love tends to be a word of many meanings: The devotion of a parent to a child, romantic love between two adults, a child’s love for a pet, the love between friends, an individual’s love of nature, and love of the self. There are a myriad of ways that love shows up in the world. And in a world that has more than enough conflict and negativity, we might argue that the power of love has the ability to overshadow all else and has more impact than we realize when we skim the surface of what it can accomplish.
There have been studies that indicate being with a loved one or pet results in a drop in blood pressure (*State University of New York), and other reports have demonstrated that being in an intimate relationship can result in a longer lifespan (*National Institute of Medicine). We know that building self-confidence and accepting the present, even while working through difficult situations, can have profound impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health – sometimes far beyond what we might think possible. We might even go as far as saying that supporting someone else, no matter how far removed, as they work toward their best health and wellbeing is a way of expressing love: A love of possibility, infused with positive energy, a love for humanity and all of its intricacies, and love via a deep sense of knowing that any positive actions and words speak an ancient truth.
Eventually you will come to realize that love heals everything, and love is all there is. –Gary Zukav
So, a simple word – love – is a way shower to abundance and life: To possibilities, wellbeing, and contentment with all that is. Take the rest of this month to think about how love is showing up for you each day, and make a point to show it to everyone you encounter as you move through your own version of reality.
Come out from the circle of time and into the circle of love. — Rumi