“Where is God? Wherever you let him in.” Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, Poland 1787
In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti …
Clad in blue-gray woolly plaid, black oxfords
and pressed, pristine white uniform-blouse
on the morning walk from the dorms to the convent
past the apple orchard, now ripe and dropping its ruby fruit
past big-eyed, benign cows gently lowing
walking briskly across that green pasture land and then
into the greener wood rich in conifers and
piney detritus that crunches amiably under foot
in single-minded pursuit through that adjacent wood
and on to Sister Mary Francis, the kitchen, bread.
… we therefore beseech thee, O Lord, to be appeased, and to receive this offering of our bounden duty, as also of thy whole household …
The romance was not with bread to eat,
but with yeasts to proof, batters to mix,
and dough to knead, and rest, and grow -
that beautiful, mystical living thing you have
before the baking and dying into bread, and with
the clanking music of wood ovens firing up, pans crashing
the rythmic swish and sway of our silent community
punctuated by the clicking of Sister’s rosary as she
monitors the students and novices at bakers’ tables.
This the sacred work of those wholly hours before Mass and school
and the busy business of music lessons and art classes and
the methodical ticking of Liturgical Hours until finally Compline, sleep and
the contemplation of that final sleep and dust-to-dust.
And this being Tuesday, the day to commemorate St. John the Baptist,
and the day to bake our bread for the week to come.
…order our days in thy peace; grant that we be rescued from eternal damnation and counted within the fold of thine elect. Through Christ our Lord …
The next bake day, Thursday, commemorated to the Holy Apostles.
Oh, palpable Presence, we work in the silence of Adoration
preparing the wafers for seven days of Masses.
In a solemn alcove used just for this,
we mix pure white flour, salt, and holy water blessed by Father Gregory,
then the fragile process of baking on baking tongs
silvery antiques, a hundred or so years old.
… which offering do thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things …
The last and lesser thrill:
receiving the now Eucharist and knowing it was formed by my own hand.
…to bless, consecrate, approve, make reasonable and acceptable
that it may become for us the Body and Blood of thy most beloved Son,our Lord Jesus Christ…
Friday, The Cross and Theotokos (Mary)
mother of both God and man, Divine and human.
A woman, like me, baking bread in womanly tradition.
…who the day before he suffered took bread into his holy and venerable hands, and with his eyes lifted up to heaven, unto thee, God, his almighty Father, giving thanks to thee …
A lifetime ahead to figure it out …
Take this Bread.
… he blessed, brake, and gave to his disciples saying: Take and eat ye all of this…
from the pastures and the woods, from the sky and stream
from nature’s great cathedrals, everywhere present
… hoc est enim Corpus meum…
for this is my body
© poem ~ Jamie Dedes, 2011 All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ courtesy of Fisheaters.com via Wikipedia. It is a photograph of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1770 – 1867) painting, Virgin by the Host (1852)