Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Journey for Bread... and Brighter Days

If you take one cup of flour and mix it with two cups of water, you'll create a globby, grey paste. It's sticky. It's messy. It doesn't look good and you can't eat it.

What good is a sticky glue that hardens across your hands? That leaves your stomach empty?

Put that flour and water aside and go search for some oil.

Maybe you have some in your pantry.

Maybe not.

Maybe you have to drive to the super market.

But your car broke.

So, now you have to walk.

And it's cold.

And rainy.

But you set out anyway.

And as you walk your body gets tired because it's cold and wet.

But you don't stop.

You keep walking.

And then you finally make it to the store, only to find out they're closed.

So you pull up your hood a bit tighter around your ears and set off for the next store.

And maybe the wind picked up and you kind of want to just fall to the ground defeated.

But what good would that do?

So you keep walking.

And your feet are starting to hurt.

But you keep on going.

And you finally make it to the second store.

And you walk inside where it's light and it's warm and you look on the shelf - but they're all out of oil.

And your shoulders slump.

Because this is harder than you thought it would be.

But you take a deep breath and zip up your coat and head out to the third store.

And the sky grew even darker and the rain heavier and the wind angrier.

But you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And your feet hurt and your shoulders ache and your shoes are soaked through and just as you're crossing the street some jerk flies by and sprays water all over the front of your jeans so now your legs are frozen, too, and you have to climb up the hill and you just can't do it anymore and you hate everything so you fall to the curb, not caring that you're sitting in a cold puddle and you have yourself a good hard cry.

One of those ugly blotchy skin, puffy eyes, dripping snot kind of cries.

And when you're done crying you think, "well, now. I just had myself a good cry."

Then you pick up your cold, tired, aching body, and start climbing that hill to get to that third grocery store, not even knowing if they'll even have the stupid oil.

But you do it - because they just might.

And it's a hard walk.

Blisters form.

Your lips get chapped.

And you close your eyes as you will your numb legs forward.

And you count breaths.

And count steps.

Anything to keep your mind off the fact that you would be perfectly content falling to the cold, hard, wet ground and sleeping forever.

But then, you open your eyes and find yourself suddenly at the top of the hill.

And the store is right there.

So you walk in.

And the cashier smiles at you, nods you over to aisle seven, where you find your choice of oil.

As you hand over your dollars and say thank you for the change you think, "I am so glad I finally found this oil!"

And the walk home is still cold and wet and windy, but somehow not so terrible-horrible with that oil in your hand.

And you smile when you walk through your door because you think, "no one is going to believe what I went through to get this oil!"

And you look over at that flour and water still sitting on the shelf.

You grab that same cup of flour, but this time you only take a half cup of water, add in 2 tablespoons of oil, and mix yourself up some unleavened bread.

And this you eat, warm, straight from the oven.

And as your bones thaw and your muscles relax you think, "mmm, this was worth that painful journey to get that oil. Tomorrow, I just might make me a pie crust."

You see, you could have stayed stuck with just that flour and water. You could have stayed in your safe, warm, dry house, cursing the sticky mess and hating your hunger. What good would have come from a grey paste that you couldn't eat?

You could have stayed there. It doesn't require much energy to stay.

The choice is yours to go out and do whatever it takes to get the ingredient you need to make something useful out of what you've been given. No one is going to drop it in your lap. No one can make the walk for you. You have to be the one to put on your coat and tie your shoes.

Ain't no telling what the weather will be like. Might be sunshiney and warm for some people; might be the middle of a winter hurricane for others. The journey might be long, hard. Hellish, even, at times.

And you might want to give up.

Shoot! You might give up! Plop right down in the middle of the street and sob into yourself - and that's okay. Just as long as you understand it's up to you to get back up when you're finished crying.

It's up to you to take the journey to get to that one ingredient that you know is going to make a difference in your life.

No one is promising it'll be easy. No one is promising it'll be quick. And, the truth is, even after you get that ingredient, you're still left with the same things that created the sickly, gooey mess. It's still there.

It's up to you to keep on fighting to make the bread and to constantly avoid the glue that threatens to hold you down.

But I guarantee you, there isn't a sweeter tasting bread than the one you fought with all your soul to make.

Avery Johanna McCarthy