My favorite bread recipe is also the simplest. Flour, water, salt, and a very small amount of leaven are the only ingredients. The method is strictly hands off. The key is to combine the ingredients, leave the dough alone, and let the yeast do the work â€“ all of it.
I remembered this recipe under unusual circumstances not too long ago. I was getting into bed for the night when all the symptoms of flu that had been creeping up on me for a few days came down on me, causing me to feel miserable.
Accustomed to praying in these kinds of situations, I began to pray to avoid what looked to be a long uncomfortable night ahead. I was affirming that God loved me and would send only goodness and warmth and that flu symptoms had no power to distance me from the comfort and love of my heavenly Father-Mother, whom I've learned to know as entirely good. This was a hopeful prayer, but I wasn't feeling any better. Then I felt myself turn wholeheartedly to listen for what Love, God, would tell me â€“ for what would heal me.
I was a little surprised (but in no position to be skeptical) to suddenly remember this favorite bread recipe. As I considered it, it became a useful metaphor for my need. The task at hand seemed heavy and taxing. It was the lovely simplicity of the recipe â€“ and the hands-off method â€“ that caught my attention.
What began to enlighten my thought was what St. Paul referred to as "the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Cor. 11:3). Christ Jesus said, "If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32). As I pondered this, I realized that even this master healer, God's most accomplished, was wholly trusting God to lift him up, for in this verse he speaks of being lifted up, not lifting himself up.
One of the women he healed in his ministry was in fact described as "bowed together. She could "in no wise lift up herself" (Luke 13:11). But the Christ, Truth, God's powerful idea, could and did raise her up. Jesus saw her as simply whole and as perfect as God made her to be.
My prayer took a turn. I didn't have to labor and struggle to free myself. Prayer, the inspiration that comes from God to us, does the lifting, the leavening in thought. Just a tiny bit of leaven is needed to lift the mass of dough. I reasoned that just a small amount of inspiration could lift these heavy symptoms off me.
"A little leaven causes the whole mass to ferment. A grain of Christian Science does wonders for mortals, so omnipotent is Truth ..." wrote the founder of this paper, and Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 449).
Just as the recipe actually requires the baker to leave the dough alone and allow the yeast to do the work, I could ease up and let Christ, Truth, God's love for His children, do the healing work.
Oh, what a relief! How simple it seemed then. The simple ingredients to the prayer? Love, receptivity, trust, hope, faith, expectancy. The leaven? Inspiration from God.
While I wasn't making much progress toward relief myself, I decided that spiritual healing by definition is a selfless activity, and, therefore, nothing could keep me from taking the small amount of leaven, or inspiration, I'd received and using it on the behalf of others â€“ people who had asked me for help through prayer. I could pray and let it go to work, trusting it to lift and work for others, changing their perceptions from discord to harmony, just as allowing yeast to permeate the dough changes the properties of the mass and causes it to rise and become bread.
I don't know how long I prayed that night, but I was not miserable. Things lightened up and I fell into a sweet sleep. By morning, the symptoms had fallen away. My outlook was bright and free. And I simply made some bread.