In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti …
Clad in blue-gray woolly plaid, sensible shoes
and pressed, pristine white uniform-blouse
on the morning walk from the dorms to the convent,
past the apple orchard, fruit hanging like red agate beads,
past big-eyed benign cows softly lowing,
walking briskly beyond the pen and then
into the brown wooded strip, rich in conifers,
the piney detritus crunching amiably under foot,
in the single-minded pursuit of
Sister Mary Francis, the kitchen, bread.
… we therefore beseech thee, O Lord, to be appeased, and to receive this offering of our bounden duty, as also of thy whole household …
The romance was not with bread to eat,
but with yeasts to proof, batters to mix,
and dough to knead, and rest, and grow –
that beautiful, mystical living thing you have
before the baking and dying into bread, and with
the clanking music of ovens firing up, pans crashing,
the rhythmic swish and sway of our quiet community
punctuated by the clicking of Sister’s rosary as she
monitors the students and novices at bakers’ tables.
This, the sacred work of those early hours before Mass and school
and the busy business of music lessons and art classes and
the methodical ticking of Liturgical Hours until finally Compline, sleep and
the contemplation of that final sleep and dust-to-dust.
And this being Tuesday, the day to commemorate St. John the Baptist,
and the day to bake our bread for the week to come.
…order our days in thy peace; grant that we be rescued from eternal damnation and counted within the fold of thine elect. Through Christ our Lord …
The next bake day, Thursday, dedicated to the Holy Apostles.
We work in the silence of Adoration.
In a quiet alcove
mixing flour, salt, and holy water,
then the fragile process of baking wafers on baking tongs,
… which offering do thou, O God, vouchsafe in all things …
The wafers from my hand to priestly consecration, bread into body.
Enigma into doubt.
…to bless, consecrate, approve, make reasonable and acceptable
that it may become for us the Body and Blood of thy most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ…
Friday. The Cross and Theotokos, Mary,
mother of both God and man, Divine and human,
just a girl like me, a baker of bread.
…who the day before he suffered took bread into his holy and venerable hands, and with his eyes lifted up to heaven, unto thee, God, his almighty Father, giving thanks to thee …
Mysterious. Numinous. Inexplicable.
A lifetime ahead to figure it out.
Take this Bread.
… he blessed, brake, and gave to his disciples saying: Take and eat ye all of this…
from the pastures and the woods, from the sky and the stream
from nature’s great cathedrals, everywhere present
... hoc est enim Corpus meum…
for this is my body
“Where is God? Wherever you let him in.” Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, Poland 1787
© 2011, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photograph of chalice and matzoh (sometimes used to emphasize the re-creation of the Last Supper) courtesy of John Snyder under CC BY SA 3.0 license; Menachem Mendel Morgensztern bio.