Weekly Reflection - 12/8/2022
St. Mary's Reflection:Rebekah Hays Estera
Reflections of Baking for the Feast of Sankta Lucia
Photo on left - *A rosemalled tray of lussekatter - (my kid always makes a cat and sneaks it into the bunch)
Hi, I'm Rebekah Hays Estera. I'm a postulant preparing for the vocational diaconate from SEA Episcopal, San Bruno, and completing my Mentored Experiential Learning (sometimes called Field Education) with you here at Saint Mary the Virgin. Baking is a spiritual practice for me. I love that at the center of our Sunday liturgy, we share a simple meal of bread and wine. I have set the Table with you, and I'm looking forward to spending time baking together this week.
In her book, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, Laura Winner asks "If God calls Godself the Bread of Life, what kind of bread is God?" I found this question evocative when I first read it and I revisit it often. Each bake helps draw me a little closer to the many characteristics of God. I keep this in mind as I sprinkle out flour and roll out dough.
Bread teaches me. In the early stages, there is often flour, water, and yeast. In its unformed state, I am reminded of all of our potential for good and different things. As we add in different ingredients – salt or eggs to our bread, community and service to our Christian lives – we begin to form. Just like various breads, so too we are formed differently. Some dough spends lengthy periods in autolyse, where the flour absorbs every bit of liquid before it can truly start its formation. I relate to that dough – my first year in the Episcopal Church was spent in observation, soaking it all in, making sense of what I might be called to here.
In the early stages of working with dough, it is important to keep the salt away from the yeast, and even sometimes yeasts separate as well. Growth can be a fragile thing and salt can stamp out yeast, and domestic yeast can stamp out local cultures. It reminds me to nurture and treat with care the spaces we have for growth. Deacons (and students!) often talk about their “outside the church” ministries; an ongoing project I have the honor of being a part of is in a community of people who are seeking to reimagine their faith. Many have been hurt by the church: spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It is such a brave thing to reengage faith after hurt. I love getting to ensure that a community they are in now is an environment in which their growth can flourish without being stamped out by aggressive elements.
Rest is maybe the important lesson I learn from bread. Bread rises when it rests. I like to be on the go. Praxis is my favorite word in any class. My heart breaks for this broken world and I am eager to be a part of building God’s upside down kin-dom. But God sanctified rest and I must learn to honor rest as part of God’s good plan for us all too. Bread teaches me how to rest. My favorite is resting baguettes. They require structure to rest and be formed into the goodness they were created for; otherwise, they become sad puddles of shapeless dough. I relate to baguettes too – I need structure for my rest. I’ve been working on that during my time here at SMVSF, carving out time for good rest, learning to not only understand it as part of my formation but appreciate the role rest plays.
I always ask a bake what I can learn. This Saturday, we will be making Lussekatter together (all are welcome to join in at 9:30!). Lussekatter celebrates the Feast of Santa Lucia. Saint Lucy's Day reminds us to look to the youth to light the way. Episcopalians have such a rich history and a rich liturgy; I call it the faith that sustains me…like good bread. Our liturgy and community is infused with new life when it is truly intergenerational. Santa Lucia invites us to participate in old traditions and see it through the wonder of a child.
Rebekah Hays Estera,