I've always loved the story but the process of the bread making has been hard for me. As a child, I would watch the hopeful rising of the bread dough, safely under a cloth, and then watch as my mother or grandmother walked over, striped away the cloth, and punched down the risen dough. They would then cover it back up and walk away, confident that it would build itself back up, would rise again only to be pushed back down once more.
Lately I've been feeling like bread dough. Every time I feel myself rising up, filling with air the air of hope and possibility, somebody comes to lift the cloth off of my little bowl and punch me back down to a flattened disk. I rise, then the hits come and I lay, gathering myself for the next rising and beating and falling and flattening. And still I rise again.
And so when I grew up, when I had my own kitchen, my own bowls and ingredients and cloths and aprons, I made quickbreads. For those who might not know the term, quickbreads are the sweet, in between bread & cake loaves like banana bread, zucchini bread, pumpkin spice bread. And I always loved making them because all that was needed was to stir the ingredients, grease the pan, pour them in and let the beautiful smells fill my home.
In the early years of my marriage, I made quickbreads almost every week. I loved everything they represented, loved how much he loved eating them, and enjoyed that moment when visitors opened the door and breathed in deeply, filling their lungs with the sweet, warm, lovey smell of baking spices and crisp sugary tops. I could never bring myself to punch my food. It was my language of love, there was no hitting involved.
And yet later in life, here we are and the hits just keep on coming. It seems that every time I feel like I've gained some ground in my life, every time I spend a happy weekend with friends or family, every time I say to myself, I won't let my illness dictate my life, fate says otherwise. That giant fist swoops down and I have a respiratory infection and my fever spikes and I loose days, weeks.
My body cannot fight off infection. That is the reality of the medicines I need. My immune system is confused. It wants to attack the healthy cells amid my digestive system and in order to save those cells, I have to sit, alone and lonesome, in a giant hospital room, receiving medicine that will confuse my immune system to save the precious cells in my stomach, my intestine, my very organs that I used to use so happily to consume the breads that I made in my joyful little kitchen all those years ago.
But the medicine does not differentiate. If one cell is safe, then they all are. And so the germs are safe too, and my body is in shackles. It cannot fight when it needs to fight because it fights too much when it should rest.
It is a kind of pergatory that we live in, we autoimmune disorder survivors. Waiting for the moment to come, waiting for the medicine to come, waiting for the breakthrough to come that will free us from this pergatory and let us live.
It is coming. That moment, that medicine is coming. I know this much is true.
And so I wait. And I endure, and I let the blows wash over me. And then I rise.
So today if you're feeling beaten down, pushed to the bottom, I hope you find the strength to breathe, let the air come into your lungs, let yourself be filled with warmth and hope and possibility. Rise. And rise. And rise.
Lots of Love,