Looking Deeply, Part 2

“To practice does not mean to imitate the form. To practice means to use our intelligence and our skill to make nourishment and transformation possible in our self, engendering nourishment and transformation in the people around us.” Thich Nhat Hanh

As I move along my narrative about looking deeply, I imagine that the wheat has been grown and harvested in Adams County. With silos brimming, grain is much like having money in the bank; the grain is brought to market where it can be sold. More value is added by milling the grain into flour. The mill transforms grain into flour. Maybe in this case the mill is powered by water collected by a millpond from a creek nearby. A millpond is a form of potential energy that is stored for later use. Next, a mountain comes to mind, and I see veins of pink granite being quarried and fashioned into millstones. These stones, from eons ago, are now heard gently turning and creaking in a restored 19th century millhouse. With slow rotations, the stones remain cool and help preserve the nutritional integrity of the grain; so with fresh flour in hand the process of making bread begins.

Steps are taken for making a sourdough culture, which requires several stages of attention before vibrant dough can be made. When all conditions are present: flour, water, salt, sourdough leaven, fermentation, oven temperature, timing, and perhaps an offering to Ceres or Fornax (or both just to make sure!), the results are good bread. Real bread not some modern version of a cereal product that’s been extruded with machines from some dubious source. The craft of baking will generally yield more than the sum of its parts. Something that you can literally sink your teeth into!

If we look back in time “deeply,” we may reclaim some qualities that have been lost. So I say, Festina lente–make haste slowly. I’m not suggesting a nostalgic return to Luddite shenanigans, but it does beg the question, “Why are we so easily distracted from the qualities that embrace simple goodness?” Maybe it’s just easier to be mischievous or recklessly modern. It’s always the proverbial slippery slope that gives us pause to those temporal thrills we subconsciously crave. As the Dakota say, “Take care of your goodness.”

The meditation of looking deeply brings the word telos to mind; a Greek word for aim or purpose, and I would add the qualities; goodness, and simplicity. Looking deeply engages the mind of a reflective practitioner. “To practice means to use our intelligence and our skill.” It is how practice becomes praxis. Socrates said very succinctly, “Now speak to a craftsman–he’ll tell you to do the job better.” As you practice work with others, a deeper social connection is encouraged while “engendering nourishment and transformation in the people around us.”

Marc Jalbert, Founding Director of Bakewell Farm, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to promote “bread-centric” educational programs for building community while engaged in the practice of public service. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org