“Give us this day, our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.”
This is the prayer in my heart, the words my mind speaks each time I cut a slice of bread.
I don’t bake bread every day, but all of the bread my family eats, I have baked. This is cause for gratitude. I am able to make bread, good bread, to feed my family. I am home enough to wait through the rises. I am strong enough to knead the dough. I have a reliable oven in which to bake, sunny warm spots free of drafts for rising. I have a grinder for my wheat and a carefully stored up abundant supply of ingredients.
I have a dozen recipes I use regularly, switching breads as whim, weather or ingredients on hand dictate. Some of my slow rising breads I only make in summer when my house is warm. Made in winter, those end up as dense, compact loaves.
I am thankful I’ve been baking long enough to build up this repertoire, this knowledge of accumulated experience.
And the bread is good.
My husband took a class in baking artisan bread during grad school. He loves good bread and enjoyed working the dough. But he’s never had the time to develop the feel for the dough that he needs to produce consistently excellent bread. It’s hard to do if you’re an occasional weekend chef.
I’m no artisan. My breads are humble, the simple whole foods of daily life. I thank God that I am able to do this little work for my family. It is a grace that I, an unprofitable servant, am able to do this.
Saying it is a grace does not diminish the work required. All things worth doing require work. But surely it is a grace to be able to work. The wheat, the yeast; these are gifts whose presence is unquestioned in my life. But these staples cannot be taken for granted by many hungry people across the world and throughout history.
My work is a time for reflection, and even that leisure to reflect is a gift. We jokingly call money bread, and use it to purchase plastic wrapped spongy loaves, but that is just a transaction for a commodity; there is no reflection and no space for gratitude in economics.
And so I think about my debts as I make our daily bread. I pray that I may be forgiven, and thank God for what I have been given.