I was standing in my kitchen on Sunday night, going through the motions that have become sacred to me over the last seven years. Mixing, mashing, measuring, baking. All of this for a few loaves of banana bread.
And yet, as I stood there that night, a line from the newest David Crowder band shaping my thoughts, I couldn’t help but think about all the times I’ve made these same motions in the last seven years. All of the times I’ve let my hands work as I prayed.
It started shortly after I returned from Malta, seven years ago. My life was starting to fall apart, and I had felt called to join with some others in fasting and praying our way through the remainder of the Lenten season that we’d begun together at St. Peter’s in Rome. In my case that meant, among other things, giving up traditional sweets and desserts. And so, I started to bake banana bread. It fit the guidelines I’d laid out for myself and satisfied my need for something to round out my meals. I made it at least once a week through Lent that year, standing in my kitchen, prepping, mixing, and then waiting as my home filled with the scent of the baking bread. It became a ritual of prayer – a way for me to remember my fast and turn my prayers and attention towards the intentions of the season.
I’ve been praying with it ever since.
I made it in the little basement apartment the one with mice in the ceiling – as I navigated the waters of returning to daily life amidst all that the time in Malta had stirred up. I fasted and hated fasting. I prayed and resented the need to pray, and so I let my hands take over – let them form a sacred way for me to communicate with Christ in a season where words were hard to find.
I made it as one roommate became two, and we relocated to the quiet house with the big yard that we never quite managed to keep mowed to the landlord’s satisfaction. From that house I mailed a loaf via next day post across the country – a symbol of my ongoing prayer for someone I cared deeply for.
I made it in the little apartment where I lived with my bestie as the remains of my life shattered around me and as she prepared to leave the country for her homeland. (She makes it now from time to time in New Zealand.) I made it as I wondered what would come next and fought to have even a few ducks in a row.
And for the last five years I made it in the makeshift kitchen I created in Grandma’s basement, baking the muffins six at a time in the toaster oven, sitting on the floor as I ran the mixer and measured and mixed. In that basement it was banana bread that I made when a dear friend texted that her dad’s life hung in question as surprise health complications arose. I was journeying towards Catholicism in earnest, then, and that day I lit a candle in my dank basement home, turned on a recording of the rosary, and baked banana bread, because this is how I prayed best – especially in a season where my prayer life was changing to absorb all the set out prayers of the Catholic church. I baked it through five years of what felt like exile – five years of wondering where God was and if he could possibly be in the midst of all that I was feeling and experiencing.
And this past weekend, for the first time, I made it in my new home. I’d had a dance party in my living room earlier that afternoon, listening to David Crowder’s Neon Steeple album and enjoying the combination of new worship songs and old gospel and bluegrass classics that comprised it. This home is a gift – one I sometimes couldn’t even hope for. One that wasn’t on the horizon even six months ago. One that has had friends step in and be overwhelmed with excited joy, since we’ve prayed so long that I would one day have a space like this.
And on Sunday night, I made banana bread, and I prayed. I gave thanks, and I reflected. I laughed joyfully at that which has been given to me. I prayed that His kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven, and I prayed the reality of these lines from David Crowder in thanksgiving for my life as it is now, and in petition over the lives of many that I care about:
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t cure
There’s much that I could say about these lines. I could give into the temptation to write so many things about the truth they’re holding for me these days, but I’ll say simply this – I have seen the healing of heaven in both the now and the not yet moments of life. I see it in my home and I see it in the lives of some of those who I look forward to joining in heaven one day.