This is the story of a lady known and admired for her gentle spirit and manner. She had several children, and the family kitchen was a gathering place for her children, family, neighbors, and friends. It could be noisy when the children came home from school, but snacks were always ready and waiting, and the chatter lasted for some time as the jelly sandwiches were eaten.
Saturday was the day she found time to bake bread for her family and the others who came by. One Saturday her son, Bob, came to sit in the kitchen. He was so surprised to see his tender, gentle mother as she prepared the dough for the oven. She pounded the dough, twisted the dough and threw the dough down on the floured table. She picked it up and repeated the violent treatment of the dough.
Seeing this other side of his mother, Bob asked her why she pushed and pounded the dough so much. Did she not like to bake bread? She said she delighted in baking bread, and had to do what she did so that the bread would bake smooth and without holes.
Bob grew up to be a priest and told this story in one of his homilies. He said it has a parallel to what we need to experience to become smooth saints with souls that do not have holes in them. We do not even have to go anywhere or plan the “violence” for ourselves. It almost always happens that something occurs to pummel our complacency. If we look at it as a way of preventing holey souls, we could be on the way to becoming holy souls.
Also we certainly do not want to be the source of hole making in others or ourselves. We might emulate the gentleness and tenderness of the mother and save the violent reaction for when it is needed “to make smooth bread without holes.”
My thanks to the late Fr. Bob Drewes for sharing his mother’s story.
Peace, joy, and everything good to you,
S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center. She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses. Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships. One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.