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by Patty Stephens

In Nature, Winter is a time for hibernating, for sap to stop flowing in trees. For darkness. It’s a time for sleep and soup. Lots of sleep. Lots of soup. The night sky is clear, sound takes on a unique crystalline quality. We are immersed in so many functions that happen beautifully without any direction from us. We just participate in the magic of the Universe!

For instance, breathing happens in humans at the average rate of 23,000 times in a 24 hour period. That includes when we are sleeping. It happens involuntarily. Breathing might be easy or labored. It matters that it keeps us alive so we can live with purpose or not. It feels like magic.

Yeast lives in our environment and only needs an agent to reproduce. A mixture of equal amounts of flour and water in a warm place will begin to bubble and foam. When you add more flour and knead the dough, let it rest, it will rise into a beautiful loaf of bread. It doesn’t matter if it is a heavy, hard loaf or an underbaked loaf. It is still food for the soul and to be shared. The magic has happened involuntarily.

It strikes me at this time of year, the “Holidaze” seem to be fraught with anxiety and a scurrying temperament that feels panic stricken. I know I am not speaking for everyone but even for folk who have dropped out of the shopping/baking/decorating frenzy, we find a way to feel some external pressure. The interstate is a mess, stay away from Louisiana Blvd. Old Town is a nightmare with all the traffic, I can’t hear one more Christmas song…blah, blech, blah.

My invitation to all of us is to be like bread and breath rising. Find a place to connect with your heartbeat and your breath. Make a mixture of equal parts of water and flour and watch it come to life.

See what a difference it can make to honor the rhythm of winter and then go about your celebrations. Don’t put fish sauce in your eggnog or bread. I’ll explain.

I can’t wait to see you on Sunday, December 5, 10:00am at Maple Street Dance Space. With the help of Tim Keegan, I’ll be sharing poetry from Padraig O’ Tuama, Margaret Atwood, and Jericho Brown as well as more thoughts on Bread and Breath Rising.

©2021 Patty Stephens

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