Life is like bread.
Sometimes our lives feel like a crusty loaf of French baguette right out of the oven from a tiny bakery on the Ile Saint Louis… inviting, warm, delicious, and just slightly exotic. Maybe those baguette days take place at weddings or during vacations or even when we decide to spend the whole day in our pajamas watching movies and eating pizza. Those are good days.
Sometimes our lives feel more like a piece of matzah just pulled out of yet another box of factory made unleavened bread… flat, flavorless, cold, and if we eat too much of it, it forces our bodies to stop flowing as it should. 😉
Of course we all wish for a majority of our days to resemble baguettes, but how do we reach those glorious days? Most of us don’t get to the vacation without first having to work hard to plan it and afford it. We don’t meet the person we want to marry without first going on a bunch of dead-end dates. And we don’t usually get the career promotion without first making the extra time-consuming effort. It takes a heck of a lot of labor to get to a “Promised Land.”
In our Passover story, the unleavened bread was our traveling companion. It wasn’t exciting or delicious, but it accompanied us on our journey from A to B. Similarly, we have to get ourselves from A to B, from less ideal situations to more ideal ones. What accompanies us on those journeys? It may not be matzah, but it may be feelings that are just as cold, flat, and tasteless. We might feel that our lives aren’t moving forward, or in the right direction, or quickly enough. We might believe we will never find true love. We might be frustrated with all of the mundane or even unpleasant activities we must bear while doing our best to keep our eyes on the prize.
So, most of life is a bit like matzah. But that’s okay, because matzah (and our journeys) don’t have to be so intolerable. Last weekend, I took part in a Passover cooking demonstration with my community, Cool Shul, and Chef Danny Corsun from Culinary Kids. There my feelings about matzah were changed forever. We made our own… flour, water, olive oil, and no more than 18 minutes in the oven to make sure it was still technically matzah. And you know what? It was warm and flavorful and delicious! We dipped it into a freshly made pesto and charoset with pomegranate seeds, and rather than being a lifeless culinary experience, matzah became something kind of divine.
So, maybe we can re-think those laborious days of our lives the way I got to re-think matzah. Maybe there is a way to make our daily journeys more flavorful.
Let’s remember that while we were slaves, we were also well-fed. I’m not so sure we remembered to have gratitude for that little blessing. Then, when we were free, we were hungry and afraid and really struggled with holding on to our beliefs and to thankfulness for our new position. This means the “negative” places we are may have some positives if we look hard enough, and that the hard-won freedoms we are looking forward to may come with a cost. So, perhaps we can do our best to treasure the small triumphs and notice the positive things hidden in our day to day journeys. Maybe we can be mindful enough to be present with with the mundane or even the painful rather than focusing on the fact that we aren’t already in better days.
Let’s pack some freshly baked matzah in our sacks (no more boxes of Streitz’s!) and walk boldly toward the possibilities of tomorrow without losing sight of the challenges that will come with “arriving.” Let’s enjoy our baguette days, but also never forget that every life will include more matzah days ahead as well. It’s partly up to us whether or not we find the blessings in those flatter moments.
Hope you will join me and Cool Shul at our Community Seder on April 15 in Temescal Canyon. Click here for more info.