This week, in the lead-up to Easter, my personal thoughts about the Resurrection found themselves expressed in the form of a sourdough starter that I was growing from scratch. Each day I wrote a five-line reflection on the process. While Jesus’ death and resurrection is of a scale far bigger than anything growing in a jar in my kitchen, I often find these days that God brings profound truths out of the simple, organic stuff of everyday life. Daniel Berrigan captures this when he describes a group of priests who continue to serve in community because of “the risen bread”, this phrase capturing both the everyday staples of community life and the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, our bread of life. I’ve had Berrigan’s words play out in my head this week as I have watched my sourdough starter rise, fall and rise, and have prepared for the unparalleled wonder if the risen Christ who changes and fulfills everything.
What neglect killed, we try to build again
Taking such simple things as flour, water,
Empty jar on a windowsill,
And in emptiness awaiting the miracle,
Futile as it seems.
Leaves tinge yellow as I stir
This fundamental stuff to mix with air.
Daily this act of faith, this trust, while
The one who calls Himself bread
Stirs my substance too.
Do you understand this new leaven growing here?
It is not like the old one that puffs at the first
Complement but shrivels in the cool of night:
No, this one's wild, daily renewing, bidding you discard
All that does not bring life.
By Thursday have you begun to doubt?
Has this whole rising enterprise begun to seem
Implausible? Have past failures and the exhaustion
Of daily removing deadweight begun to feel futile?
Friday looms. Sunday waits.
Does today feel furthest from the miracle?
You can remember the jubilation bubbling like Hosanna,
Now only gasps of air. Do not watch.
Better to turn away, forget how He held up bread
And said, "Remember me."
In the pause between defeat and victory
There is a cusp of quiet where
We may recall the words of promise, may despair,
May watch closely for signs of life,
May forget to breathe. Breathe.
Sealed at first like a tomb - not with death
But its own bubbling life - it must be prised
Open to reveal this burst of vitality.
In such ordinary stuff You whisper, "Yes.
And bodies too."