To Bake Bread by Luke Abdow

When my alarm goes off at 3am, no matter how much sleep I’ve had, it’s hard to get out of bed. By 4am I have arrived at the bakery, apron on, hands washed, putting away dishes that have been drying overnight, the very same dishes which by the end of the morning I will be washing once again.

During the final months of my second year of Life Together, this past spring, I spent a lot of time dreaming about how I could spend my time once I had finished the program. Life Together had been nearly my entire world for two years. Who was I to be following this program? What was I to do? Amidst the blur of numerous ideas and dreams, one vision became very clear and consistent: to bake bread.

Simultaneously during my final months, I was struggling with the decision of whether or not to continue at my site placement as a community organizer following the end of the program. My spirit was restless, ready for a change, to explore the growing list of ideas I had, bread being one of them. But I was also full of fear: fear that I was making the wrong decision, fear that leaving a job as a community organizer meant leaving “the movement”, meant turning my back on justice work, and leaving the organizing world forever.

And in this period of fear and uncertainty, I turned to tools learned in LT - contemplative practices and leaning into community. I decided not to continue at my placement, and instead, for the meantime perhaps, am working as a baker. So now, a few days a week, I wake up well before the sun rises, and spend the hours of the morning repeating small, simple tasks. Mixing, resting, cutting, weighing, shaping, baking.

I’m still, at times, fearful. Fearful that I’ve taken a plunge into a deep well of uncertainty, untethered myself from so much of what is familiar, without a clear path forward, for no good reason. Is a quest towards God really a reason? I don’t know. I want to believe yes, wholeheartedly.

But in the meantime, contemplative and communal practices still support me. Through contemplative practices, particularly of chant and Centering Prayer, I’m drawing from a deep well of trust that I'm being led in the direction of wholeness. In community, I find companionship on this sometimes hazy road. And I experience accountability to continue living my values, even if not working professionally as a community organizer.

I’m grateful for the two year immersion in these practices. They remain central components of my life, even while I work on improving upon small, simple tasks to make better and better bread.