Flour, yeast, eggs, and milk are merely substances as they stand alone, but mixed together in the right proportions and placed in a perfectly warmed oven, they are transformed into bread. It is a recipe that goes back thousands of years, a food often called the staff of life both literally and figuratively. And so it is a perfect analogy for what happens to us as human beings who are in a similar way placed into the fire in order to evolve into better versions of ourselves.
When we must reluctantly walk a path which takes us on a journey we never planned to take, we soon realize that there is a destination, a lovely oasis where we will finally be able to rest our weary bones and take off our dusty shoes. At some point, we must arrive at a place of wisdom and knowledge. Otherwise, we are destined to become nomads, wandering aimlessly in a restless circle, searching, always searching, for that elusive moment which brings us peace.
I realize how subjective that all sounds, so maybe this will make more sense.
It is spring and it seems that all of my neighbors are busy pruning the trees and bushes on their property. It is an annual ritual, labor intensive, and one that we don’t enjoy. But any gardener will tell you that it is necessary, an important task to insure new, healthy growth of the plant.
Most of us don’t consider the trials of life to be a metaphorical pruning, but that’s exactly what they are. When we are challenged to the very core of our beings, we must cut away the superficial, that which no longer is healthy for us, in order to raise our arms to the sun (and The Son) as we anticipate the progression of our souls into something much stronger. And often, it isn’t until we realize that we are blooming, emerging as a better version of who we once were, do we understand the power of the process.
And make no mistake, it is powerful.
There is a wonderful story that is credited to the ancient Chinese. When a beautiful vase had developed fractures or fissures, it was taken to a master craftsman who painstakingly filled each one with pure gold. Not only did it enhance the aesthetics of the piece, but it made it far more prized than it had been originally. That idea is contrary to the mindset in our current disposable society, where we scoff at flaws and toss that which is no longer picture-perfect. I can’t help but think that somehow, those human imperfections, those experiences that have cracked us open somehow become filled with precious wisdom and faith and resolve. We become more valuable because we have survived the fall.
Ultimately, our purpose is to learn and grow, which seems impossible without a misstep or two. And somehow, when we realize that, we can begin to embrace the hard times with the same zeal as we do the moments of triumph. It is something to strive for, right? If we are able to think this way, difficulties cannot defeat us, nor can they rob us of the certainty that a better day awaits. In fact, we are able to accept them as potential blessings.
Perception is a powerful force. If we can view the world as a positive, loving place, we respond in kind. And how we see everything around us is significant. Let me show you what I mean: if you add a bit of sugar and perhaps a teaspoon of vanilla to those above ingredients, you have a cake. And who doesn’t love cake? Is it any wonder that we celebrate all new beginnings with one?