This Sunday morning I shared in communion for the first time in over 8 years. And yes, it was gluten-free! Let me explain.
It all started with a bucket list...
This summer our family made a Summer Bucket List. It contained everything from the usual - beach day, sleepover, bonfire - to the somewhat unusual - find a church home.
As a yoga instructor with a background in engineering, this might have felt like a big leap for us. While I might describe myself as a mostly spiritual intellectual - I feel faith serves a purpose in our lives, believe in a higher power within this universe and that energy can neither be created nor destroyed...yet when it comes to God and institutionalized religion, I hadn't yet found my place.
The concept of faith seems much more qualitative than quantitative. When my daughter expressed her sincere interest in returning to church, I had no reluctance to join her. I am 100% about supporting my daughter on her own unique path and I love the atmosphere, community and the inclusion that can be a reflection of a healthy, thriving church...So "Go to church" found a place on our bucket list right between "Plan a trip to Disneyland" and "Host a slumber party".
Summer came and went and with only a few weeks left before the first day of school, I came upon our Summer Bucket List. We could tick off many of the summer's best and favorite memories, but we had yet to make progress on our church home. We agreed to begin searching...
Of course, these days every search begins with a search engine - we poured over Bing and Google search results for:
local churches San Diego
And with our list in hand we decided to try a different church every Sunday.
When I shared with a few friends over the course of the last month that we were "trying on" different churches, many, to my surprise, expressed interest in our findings and our experiences. It seems many of us are searching these days.
We experienced many different approaches. For the most part we were welcomed, embraced and encouraged in our search.
One particular Sunday, I watched as others stepped forward to take communion. As someone with Celiac Disease I was reminded of the many factors that can leave us feeling like an outsider. I have never felt like a victim or spent too much time pining over the foods I once adored - instead it made more sense for me to simply move on, focus on what I COULD eat and in my case, learn to cook:-) But when we step back to think about the role of food within our community and society, we quickly realize that we use food to celebrate, to honor, to soothe and to connect with one another. The simple act of sharing food unites us and brings us together. And I was unable to partake in that one simple act. (In fact, my stepping aside caused all sorts of confusion!) We moved on to the next church.
Fast forward a little over a month later and many changes within our lives have made this journey to find our faith even more significant. While I wrestle with my precise faith I firmly believe in serendipity. Everything happens for a reason and after a major health scare coinciding with some foundation-rocking events in my family, we are each of us finding faith, strength and hope in new places and with new people. We are new to our church community but feel truly blessed and grateful for the outpouring of support, faith, hope and love. The prayers have been felt. And food played a role in helping us to feel connected, accepted, whole...
As it turns out, yesterday was World Communion Sunday. It seems very appropriate that on that day, I was able to take communion for the first time in over 8 years. The local church we have found offers gluten-free bread as well as the traditional loaf. In fact, they were kind enough to ask for my thoughts around how to improve gluten-free communion.
Whether we are gathering together for the Super Bowl or the Holy Communion, I want everyone to have the ability to share, gather and connect through food. So today I am sharing one of my own treasured recipes with our community. This is a thick, hearty bread with a crispy outer crust and often small air pockets throughout. Add rosemary for a lightly seasoned bread. Break this bread with friends, loved ones and neighbors. Dip it into soups and stews or slice and lightly toast, then top with fresh jam. Savour eat bite and remember that the foods we eat are often a reflection of how we treat ourselves.
What's your favorite food to gather around? Share with us in the comments below.
May your week be filled with blessings and many reasons to celebrate,
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SIMPLY DELICIOUS GLUTEN-FREE BREAD
Makes 2 small loaves
(1 loaf = approx. 8 slices)
1 1/4 cups almond flour
1 1/4 cups potato starch (NOT potato flour)
2/3 cup oat flour (sub quinoa flour if avoiding oats)
1/2 cup millet flour (may sub buckwheat if millet is unavailable)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons xanthum gum (or sub 1 teaspoon chia and teaspoons water)
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/3 cups water, warmed to 110-115 degrees F
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
1 tablespoon honey
2-4 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer bowl, combine dry ingredients. Thoroughly blend at low speed.
Gently add warm water, eggs, 2 tablespoons oil, honey (and optional rosemary) to dry ingredients.
Using medium speed, blend together.
Oil a large bowl with 1 Tablespoon grape seed or other oil. Place dough into bowl, cover and allow to rise approximately 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.
Once dough has risen, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut dough in half and form 2 small, irregular balls or ovals.
Make three 1/4" slices into each.
Place 2 dough balls onto a pizza stone or baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven.
Bake 30 minutes or until bread is browned.
Allow to cool 30 minutes before slicing.