The spirituality of baking bread

(Brooke Cagle, via and used under Creative Commons zero.)

I’ve been thinking about bread since Sunday afternoon. My husband and I had just finished lunch (taco salads, which were delicious) with our new church small group, and we were all planning what to do for our next meal in December. Someone suggested soups and bread, an idea that was immediately and unanimously approved because we aren’t idiots. And that’s when I started thinking about bread.

You see, my goal is to bake a loaf of bread for this impending meal, something I’ve never done despite going through an intense baking phase in college. I mean, I’ve made easy no-knead zucchini and banana breads, but I’ve never made a real, hearty loaf of bread. And yet I’ve always wanted to. There’s just something about making and eating bread that has always seemed supremely spiritual to me; even the phrase “breaking bread” evokes in my head strong and immediate images of Jesus eating with his disciples.

So it makes sense to me that my first time baking bread will be in order to break bread with this intentional community within my church family. It’s probably also why I am so in love right now with this story about this story from Cori Fugere Urban about a contemplative community of women religious who make altar bread hosts.

Now, I’m not trying to equate a loaf of challah with the Eucharist, but I do think there’s something inherently divine in the physical making of bread. Any bread. All bread. Furthermore, I love the idea that the bread-making ministry of these sisters in Vermont brings spiritual sustenance to people as far away as California; it’s kind of all the romanticized things I attribute to bread making all rolled up in one true story.

Of course, there’s always the chance that I’ll hate making bread. It could be a frustrating, messy and all-around unsuccessful endeavor that leaves me disenchanted with the whole process. And then what?

I, admittedly, ask this as a wholly rhetorical question. I do realize this would be an appropriate place say something deep and theological about failure and grace, but I can’t go there right now. Of course baking bread is going to be wonderful and perfect. That’s why we have step-by-step Pinterest recipes and YouTube tutorials — to prevent failure. Right? Right.

What I will say, however, is that as we enter the holiday season (!!!!) I hope all of Global Sisters Report’s readers will be able to take the time to break bread with their respective communities — whether that be a church family, your biological family, a religious community or friends. And I’ll let you know how my bread comes out next month.


[Dawn Araujo-Hawkins is Global Sisters Report staff writer, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Follow her on Twitter @dawn_cherie]