In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.
There is a reason I like to make my own pizza dough from scratch. It may seem an excessive expenditure of time when whole pizzas, or crust, or dough can be easily purchased at any grocery store. But I love it because when I can smell the yeast, I know I am cooking! I am taking part in that ritual of mixing, kneading, shaping and cooking that ultimately keeps us all fed.
Even though we have a bread maker that makes phenomenal bread or dough (or even jelly, but that’s a story for another time), I love making dough from scratch. Working and kneading flour and yeast mixture not only lets me pound out a lot of frustrations, it makes me feel like I am doing something real, something that has both meaning and nutritional value, something I can sink my hands into.
I’m pretty sure my son agrees, though he doesn’t have the words to express it yet.
In fact, Roland made a pizza breakthrough on this recent dinner. I have long been trying to get my kids even minimally involved in cooking. Pizza with its easy, hands-on quality has been one of my tools of choice. But in the past, even this bore little success. On this night, however, Roland not only took an interest in the pizza, but saw the whole process through to the end.
He helped to knead and roll out the dough – a part he always did like – spread around the sauce and even put on toppings. It used to be that I had to nearly tie him to the chair to get him involved, and his interest was short lived. That he sat still and took an interest in all of the steps was miracle enough. Then he decided it was important enough to take pictures of the event! (More honestly, he just likes playing with the camera.)
Any parent will consider it important to see progress in their children. But when children have special needs, any step forward is a cause to celebrate. Such opportunities don’t come around often and when they do, it’s a party.
Progress is often painstaking. When it happens at all, it might be unnoticeable if not downright invisible, or at the very least exasperatingly slow. This is true in both children and adults, in our personal projects as well as in spiritual matters. We crawl forward, bit by bit, fingers clawing the dirt. We hope and hold out faith that we are going somewhere good, even when it isn’t at all obvious.
But spiritual progress rarely shows up in measurable ways that are looked for in job evaluations. This lack of external proof can be even more frustrating since it often means we are working through our scrap, our compost if you will. Our history, our pain, the not-so-pleasant parts of ourselves are the very things we have to look at long and hard.
There are, however, signs that tell us of our progress. We can begin to see ourselves with new eyes, which can be happy or painful, depending. We may actually smack our head in despair thinking that we have gotten worse at some habit, or realized some less-than-wonderful attribute of our character when we are simply beginning to see ourselves as we are. We didn’t suddenly gain this woeful attribute. We see it because we are beginning to change. When that happens to me, I take it as a sign of God’s work on my disposition.
Then, of course, there will be those joyous moments when our vision clears and we can see how far we come; when our progress becomes evident. Then we celebrate. We applaud our own efforts for the distance traveled. We thank God for the journey. We put our heads down and return to the fray.
Ultimately, our progress should be perceptible, both to us and to the outside world. Whether or not we can prove it with test scores or character inventories, we should be better from doing the hard work of spiritual growth. We won’t be able to unless we are willing to dig our hands into the dough. Knead it and let it rise.
The pizza was excellent. That my kids even tried it was a huge step forward. None of it, however, came from my Bass Family and Friends Cookbook. You can find the pizza dough recipe here, and the sauce recipe here.