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Bake a Loaf of Bread, Craft a New Mythology

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Note: This is an excerpt from my next book, Ousia: Performance Poems for New World-ing. There are symbols in the original book that intend to embody and enliven the words through meanings such as "plant these words" and "recite these lines aloud"). These symbols have been omitted from the blog post. The word "it" does not appear in the entirety of the book as a rebellion against the "thingification" of our language and society. I sometimes use "ou" instead of "it," a gender neutral term that I have appropriated from the old English.


…………


Hell is self-enclosure. Enlightenment is a gathering.


The sage speaks without words. So does the cat. And the fern. And the cutting board. All beings within your senses recite the four mysteries: death, love, time, and eternity. Simple proximity to a life changes you by necessity. Tunes you to the sharp call of surrender. Reminds you of your creaturely core.


Bathe the beetle in your sight until ou’s presence becomes the initial singularity, the pinpoint where the universe coheres before ecstating into mind-numbing multiplicity.


Freedom is not contraction into personal holiness, but expansion. Gather the perception of this beetle, that tree, that drop of rain and this ray of light, and you have healed God’s fragmented sight. Without you, ou lies trapped in solipsistic potentiality. Scattered over land and seas, without a seer to see the totality of being.


Without a whole-sighted one, God contracts back into myopic singularity.


(Birth, birth, birthing.

Galaxies birth God and your

"yes" births galaxies).

…………


A plant may teach you any lesson you need. Sit in the presence of the creature that calls you and wait for the answer to crystallize or the peace to release you from questioning.


For the sake of understanding, bake a loaf of bread. You will need:

  • 3 cups bread flour, plain/all purpose (15.8 oz. or 450g) (the flesh of all living)

  • 1 tablespoon white granulated sugar (the bare sweetness of blood)

  • 2 teaspoons dried, instant or rapid rise yeast (prayer, or the expansion that opens holes through the fabric of reality).

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (your bitter, unwept tears)

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) warm water (the life that flows through everything)

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (salve for the world's wounds).

Measure three cups of flour. Stir in 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of yeast. Add 1½ cups of warm water and one tablespoon of oil. Stir until a wet, sticky dough is formed. Place a towel over the bowl and proof for 2-3 hours. When the dough has doubled in size, shape with floured hands into a round loaf on a piece of parchment paper.


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and place a large dutch oven (with the lid) inside to heat for 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, remove pot with oven mitts. Lifting your bread by the parchment paper, carefully lower into the pot. Cover with lid and bake for thirty minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 12 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Take from oven and let bread cool for at least ten minutes before slicing.


The recipe is quite simple. But each simple task can be performed as a life-changing ritual. You may begin with this template, and then take or leave whatever meaning your soul desires.


Pouring flour into a bowl, you contemplate: sun-tanned heads yield berries. Thresh, winnow, grind: the succession of necessary brutalities. She has aged green sprout into hard grain into fine flour in order to sift through your palm, the beginning of bread.


Recite: With this meal, I praise your unearned generosity. Each thought that follows is fed by your eternally recurring energy.


Adding sugar, you are struck by life’s great absurdity: that you are never without a persistent strain of joy. Not a saccharine acceptance, but a life force large enough to make transparent each drop of world. Not the occasional exception to the banal, but the blood. Ever-present beneath the flesh, the thick sap flows. Murmuring many hidden knowings (like “I am also a sun”), only humans tucked into their depths can sense the flow.


Recite: I see you beneath the skin of this moment. I welcome the heady warmth of your arm-stretched Open.


You sprinkle yeast over the wheat-flesh, over the joy-blood. Prayer, like yeast, hollows the structure of God's body. Through hollowed holes sings the single lover through all sensed and sensing beings.


Pray: Heal my hollow heart as I heal the hurting world. Enworld me with ever-rising peace, that I may leaven my small societies.


Salt tempers the yeast, ensuring a slow fermentation: so my prayers ripen slowly, accumulating desire deferred, sweetening my sorrow with patient trust in my lover's return. Salt also strengthens the structure of the dough, allowing the gluten to hold more holes. This strengthening creates an open, porous crumb. Salt is my birth-made pain, shaped to the space of my body, trapped in the enclosure of a self come back to haunt a dimmed, damned reflection. Carrying my salt on the tongue, I become strong with presence. My soul opens, becoming porous with compassion.


Pray: I offer you the pain that has trailed me since birth. Enmixed with flesh and joy, materiality and spirit, I craft in this single loaf a human life and her salvation.


The water harmonizes and cleanses. The olive oil salves wounds. Craft your own prayers for the other ingredients and actions, and the meanings will learn to live in you. Learning to live, they'll learn to sanctify. Learning to sanctify, they'll become a part of you. A part of you, a part of them: boundaries soften, lives mingle in.


As long as you are a human trapped in time, you must mythologize. A modern human mythologizes unconsciously, and unconscious mythologies become dangerous ideologies.


The new human knows how to mythologize intentionally. She knows how to pray the world back to the meanings that are bound to each being.


Washing her face, she says: "Cleanse me of duplicity. Let my outward reflect my inward being." Clothing his body, he acknowledges, "I don my timeless Self in a time-bound culture. I surrender to these contingencies without surrendering my nature." Drinking water, she prays, "Heal, purify, and one me with the world."


I am the author of God's mythologies. Prayer uncovers each true, bright meaning and each meaning uncovers me.



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