I baked a loaf of banana bread this afternoon with help from my daughter. I love watching her culinary curiosity grow beyond mere batter tasting and sugar stealing. I have to admit she was my direct inspiration for baking this loaf today. She bought a bunch of bananas last week shopping with her Dad while I was spending the day on a vestry retreat. She isn’t a huge fan of bananas, but she had picked these out because, “we only have to eat a few of them, and then they’ll get all black spotted and be perfect for squishing up and making bread.” Well, at least she’s got the science of it down.
Anyhow, now it’s a week later and our bananas are looking pretty awful. They were headed for a sure demise in the compost heap unless bread making commenced immediately. So, we got out a big bowl, she squished them up with a fork and we added eggs and sugar and then she sifted in a combination of flour and soda and salt and cinnamon from a big aluminum hand sifter into the sloppy liquid base. After some hand mixing with a wooden spoon and adding a couple handfuls of walnuts, we poured it into a well used loaf pan. She said, “wait, I have a secret addition!” to which of course I asked, “what’s the secret?” And she rolled her nine year old eyes and said, “Mom…duh…if I tell you it won’t be a secret!” Of course, what was I thinking…
So, I watched as she took a knife and made very deliberate cross-hatches across the loaf from top to bottom, then sprinkled on cinnamon sugar from the vintage aluminum shaker of it that I keep in the 1950’s Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen. She waved her hand across it and said, “TaDa! Mushy bananas become yummy bread!”
In this small and simple daily moment, I glimpsed a moment of inspired ordinary spirituality. Like water turned to wine, yesterday’s bananas become tomorrow’s delicious breakfast. The recipe (and even the kitchenware) were the same as my mother and grandmother had used generations before and that comfortable familiarity is part of what makes cooking a favorite dish a joy, rather than a chore. There is both a science and, perhaps, magical art to cooking that transforms what ingredients we put in to our recipes into something greater than the sum of its respective parts. The chef knows that, and the guests are delighted to partake. Those that assist in the preparation are simultaneously aware that the “secret” is both obvious and elusive.
I will let any readers build analogies from here.
My point of light today: if we are willing to be a part of transformation, the result can be extraordinary. Just ask my daughter who is polishing off the first delicious slice of what, hours ago, could have been tossed aside and disposed of as rotten fruit. Redemption comes in many flavors.