Last weekend, our own Cheryl (Chaya) Holbert, founder of Nomad Bakery, challah baker extraordinaire, shared with me videos of her most recent challah creation. These are not just delicious festive breads for Shabbat and holidays. They have become works of art, complete with meaning and messages as tantalizing and nourishing to our souls as is the bread, their vessel.
Chaya showed me the video of (her) hands kneading and shaping this latest dough creation into a perfect ball. She had added Matcha powder, so the dough ball was a brilliant bright green. She saved a portion to form into an intricate, beautifully detailed leaf design which adorned the top of the bread. Once baked, only small hints of the beautiful green dough inside were slightly visible in the crevices of the perfectly golden outer crust.
As I watched the arm and hand movements changing the shapeless dough into a perfect sphere, I was reminded of our Creator, taking each of us as formless masses and shaping us, molding us. Just as the green ball becomes green dough and ultimately a fluffy, intriguing bread, each of our formless starts becomes a vibrant center, nurtured and made strong by our Maker, living in the blessing of being alive. In each of us is the vibrant green of our youth, the newness, despite our outer appearance as we age, yes often darkened and even crusty. Yet just as the green dough peeks through in places through the golden crust, so too glimmers of our youth still remain visible – the sparkle in our eyes, senses of humor, skip in our steps, even our perspectives of awe if we allow it.
Just as the detail of the sculpted leaf design adorning Chaya’s work of art, so too with time comes a beauty, insights and understandings of the detailed workings and interrelationships in life, the intricacies, a renewed draw to the truth of Him. For with work, patience, and experience, come the wisdom and beauty that only time, age and maturity, can bring. Just as the beautiful leaf atop the crusty challah, this wondrous knowledge exists alongside our hardened exteriors, our harsh actions, and even stiffened frames. Yet as the adorning sculpted leaf , a symbol of new life, atop the challah, our later years can become a time of new beginnings and insights needing all that has gone before and now to sustain and support it. The challah’s outer crustiness is delicious too, when just golden. Yet, as the outer layer is removed, of the challah and of our self protective personal walls, the vibrancy of what still thrives inside is more fully revealed.
The perfect green ball also reminded me of Yeshua, from whom springs all creation, so powerfully suggestive at this time of year of spring, the season of rebirth. The Matcha caused the unusual color, surprising, yet wonderfully magical in a bread, suggestive of the mystery in Him, that which we are to experience but not fully understand. As we live each day, as our outer shells may harden from life’s experiences, still within each of us is that perfect circle of vibrant green life and hope, the light and beauty of Him, the sustenance that feeds our soul.
Thank you, dear Chaya, for the inspiration. And thank you for not just baking challahs, but for bringing Him, the Bread of Life, to us in your very special, Ruach-filled way.