Yeasting (Waiting, Part 2)

The following is an except from Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions

My daughter, [Ann], who was then five, pulled a kitchen chair to the counter where I was baking bread. You might as well know that I don’t normally bake bread. In fact, I had never baked a loaf of bread before and haven’t baked a loaf since. But that day my creative instinct was popping out not in the usual way but in an unpremeditated attack of domesticity. I had wanted to make something from nothing, from scratch, something that would nourish people.

Ann was fascinated. She knelt on the chair, her face powdered with self-rising flour, and watched my every move. When we got to the part where you put in the yeast and cover the dough so that it will rise, I put a blue-checkered dishcloth over the bowl the way my mother used to and set it aside.

Ann wrinkled her brow. “Aren’t you going to finish?” she asked.

“We have to wait for it to rise,” I told her. I explained how the yeast causes the dough to expand.

“Well, how long do we have to wait?” shed asked.

I looked at the recipe. “An hour.”

“A whole hour?” She grimaced and plopped down in her chair to wait it out. Now and then her impatience overflowed and she lifted the cloth to peek at the dough. “It’s not doing anything,” she announced.

“You can’t see it, but the yeast is working. I promise.”

I don’t think she believed me. She finally wondered off to play.

Toward the end of the hour, though, she returned to peer into the bowl. Her face lit up. “Look, Mama, it’s yeasting!” she proclaimed.

Yeasting. Yeasting. Isn’t that the invisible mystery inside our waiting which produces the bread of life?

To create newness you have to cover the soul and let grace rise. You must come to the place where there’s nothing to do but brood, as God brooded over the deep, and pray and be still and trust that the holiness that ferments the galaxies is working in you too. Only wait.

And somehow the transformation you knew would never come, that impossible plumping of fresh life and revelation, does come. It manifests itself in unseen slowness. So it would happen to me and so it will happen to all who set out to knead their pain and wounds, their hopes and hungers, into bread. Waiting is the yeasting of the human soul.

    Wait for the LORD; be strong,
    and let your heart take courage;
    yea, wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:14, RSV)

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