Cake is my private obsession. I love baking cakes. My Gran used to make cakes by hand, using a big porcelain bowl which was pale brown on the outside and white on the inside and quite heavy. She would mix the ingredients with an old wooden spoon, so overused that the rounded part at the bottom of the spoon was worn away to flat. She’d soften up the fluffy yellow butter and cream it with the sparkling white sugar first. Then eggs one by one and finally folding in the dusty flour. Sometimes we’d make it chocolate by adding dark brown tinned cocoa powder. The cocoa powder would stick to my fingers and I would have to wash them. Then into the round cake tins and the elderly oven, and twenty minutes later a miracle of transformation would appear ready to be iced and enthusiastically decorated by Gran’s small helper.
Somewhere there I learnt to take part in all the jobs, to ice and stir and bake and test for done. I learnt what soggy uncooked cake tasted like, and I tried different icings and fillings and flavours. It became about the process of baking far more than about the end product, so that now when I bake for my children sometimes I even say, like my Gran did, that I won’t have any today, thank you.
And this Jesus is my private obsession, too. My prayer is the spiritual cake I turn to when the day hasn’t gone too well. I find my spiritual well empty, dry and clean inside, like the big brown heavy bowl. I fetch it out from the cupboard and I close the door on the world. I bake prayers, these days, as well as cake. I start with different ingredients, the butter and the fat of the kindness of others, enjoyed again in a moment of peaceful reflection at home. When I have fluffed that up, I add the sparkling white hopes of others and I ache with their aches and pains as I see the sharpness of the edges of the tiny sweet crystals of the hearts of my friends in their many and varied needs. I cream them together with the love of God for each of us, until the kindnesses have softened up the rough edges, and the creamy blend is pale and light hearted.
From the light-hearted place it is easier to feel a bit fuller of God, and my bowl doesn’t feel so heavy or empty as before. On a brave day I might celebrate the brokenness of the path that brought me here, just as breaking those eggs into the cake mix destroys the future life of the chick but allows the transformation into something new. As I look back over a path of brokenness and pain, I see the glory He has lovingly transformed it into in newness of life, and through the tears I rejoice in the hope of something new. I become more certain that the current pains and brokenness will be transformed in their turn, making my faith a little stronger, which sometimes leads me to gain strength for the future. I might add some bible verses in, separating the wheat of my life from the chaff in the process and trying to extract the kernel of truth from the many words I hear each and every day.
I do some of these things more often than others, as I make my spiritual journey. Prayer with Jesus has become my private obsession.
Do you have a spiritual ‘cake recipe’?