Last week Americans gathered around smaller than usual tables for our annual holiday that we call Thanksgiving. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to disassociate the day with the troubled mythology that American public schools told us was the historical significance of this federal holiday. But like many others I did try to attempt to use the holiday as a reminder to practice gratitude in everyday life.
As I shared in my last newsletter, I had the privilege of making 50 loaves of bread to donate to The Road Home so that they could share them with each of the families that they are currently helping to escape chronic homelessness. In order to get that much bread made in time for Thanksgiving, I had to take up bakers hours for the first time. Setting an alarm for 4am was a new experience for me, but it felt clearly worthwhile. And where I would ordinarily start my day with my daughter bounding into my bed to tell me that she’s awake, it was actually quite nice to start the day in a quiet house working on something so purposeful.
There is a particular quote that I’ve come back to regularly for the past decade. This quote serves as a bit of a reminder to me about the life I want to be cultivating:
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.”
I think that I naturally (or habitually) try to pursue jobs and hobbies and extracurricular activities where I feel that am able to live in harmony in this way. However I’m not sure I’ve ever felt quite as in sync as I do when I’m making bread… especially knowing that the bread is not only going to nourish someone, but will be a vessel for social impact.
Something that I didn’t anticipate about this big bake was how cool it would be to get to share the experience with my kids. Once they eventually woke up, my pre-school age daughter asked why I was making so much bread. This created an opportunity for me to explain to her that not everyone has enough food to eat all the time. She’s familiar with the process of us thanking God for our food before we eat, but this conversation was a perfect chance to give her tangible awareness of the fact that food to eat is indeed a blessing that we can be thankful for. And moreover, we can act justly by sharing generously with others who are in need of food while we have more than enough.
In the spirit of continuing to practice simple gratitude… something else that I’m thankful for is my public library. I recently checked out an incredible book titled Sourdough by Sarah Owens, which gave me a ton of inspiration for future recipes. I had never made a flavored sourdough, and the first recipe that I followed from her book was a beet bread that turned out to have great flavor and a soft and beautiful crumb.
So that we can encourage each other to practice gratitude this week also… I’m going to challenge you to write back with one thing that you’re thankful for. And since this is coming to you on Tuesday morning, we’ll call it #GratiTuesday. I won’t take credit for that very cool play on words… but if you reply I’ll know you read this far ;)