She systematically, almost professionally, pulls out items from cabinets, pantry, and fridge. She lines up the flour, oil, and salt while telling me how happy the smell of yeast makes her feel.
I crinkle newspapers and arrange small logs in the brick hearth oven, to get the brick warmed and ready to bake her creations.
She kneads the thick dough on the wooden board. The dimming evening light filters through the wavy old glass of the kitchen window, dancing in warm auburn flashes across her diligent fingers.
Coals in the hearth are red hot; heavenly scents of freshly risen and rolled out dough are intermingling with the smoky smells wafting from the brick pizza oven. She asks if I know that sugar is in bread recipes as food for the yeast. As the yeast eats the sugar, the yeast becomes more active, which speeds up the rising process.
The fact sounds vaguely familiar. I realize it’s an informational tidbit I learned from her last year. She goes on to explain the details of a scientific study that truly confirms that the smell of yeast gives people joy.
I watch her work and listen to her humming as she smooths sauce and scatters cheese on her homemade-from-the-hearth pizzas. I think of how much joy baking gives her, and I’m so thankful that as a parent I have a few brief years to help my children discover what their latent passions are. I have a few years to feed their abilities, so they will become active and good at whatever it is they are passionate about. The more I can help feed their passions, the more effective they are, for today and for eternity, with all the lives they will touch because they are experts at something they are passionate about. And then, oh the joy they will give others with the pleasant aroma of their daily lives. (By the way, I have learned the hard way, over the years, that sometimes feeding a passion means putting away textbooks and–dare I say it–getting off schedule.)
It’s a difficult job, being a parent. Striving daily to make sure each child’s unique talents have room to grow and thrive for the short time God has entrusted them in my care. Because I’ve seen it happen, way too quickly in this momma’s opinion, I know they will rise to adulthood. They graduate from more than a dozen years of homeschooling. And one hot August day they fully take on the responsibility of their own education at a college campus hours away. But if they can step on that campus with profound passions, convictions, and talents that they have had time to develop and grow deeply, at their own pace, over the years, oh how much that will fill us with joy.
For tonight, I’m going to revel in the immediate, delicious results of one daughter’s amazing aptitude at baking over a brick hearth. Light from an overcast New England evening falls over her loving efforts that are about to deliciously bless our family, quietly putting an end to a beautiful, blue-sky day.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. I Corinthians 12:4-6