Last week I wanted to bake challah. I had no flour or yeast, and figured I’d be tired by the end of the week. How could I make challah? I decided that I would take one action a day and see what happened. On Tuesday, I purchased the flour and yeast. Wednesday evening, I pulled out the rest of the dry ingredients, bowl, mixing spoon, and the recipe. And on Thursday evening, I didn’t think I could do anything else but put the dry ingredients in the bowl. That meant, I would bake on Friday. With a full writing schedule on Friday, I might not get to the baking.
What’s my option? Should I try to prepare tonight? It’s already 7:30 PM and the dough needs to rise for two hours!
I decided to try. While working on each step in my recipe, I connected spiritually to women from many generations before me who prepared challah for Shabbat or chagim (holidays). The water, oil, and eggs went into the bowl. I realized kneading time—the activity that requires the most energy—had arrived. I didn’t notice the time; I kept focused on the task. Almost magically, the individual ingredients became dough.
As I shaped the dough into rolls, I remembered the first woman who taught me that technique. My mind wandered back to her kitchen where we chatted about everything from challah-baking to child-raising…and even writing!
The sticky dough was hard to work with, so I added more flour. I prayed that dough would turn into tasty loaves. I placed the dough in a warm spot and prayed for the dough to rise quickly, although I hadn’t used quick-rise yeast. About an hour later I looked at the dough that was about to overflow the bowl!
As I shaped the loaves and rolls, I prayed some more. This time, I prayed not for the dough but for friends who want children, friends who want to get married, for all of us who need respectful livelihood, and for a speedy recovery to everyone I know who is sick. The whole wheat dough looked like fine wood on which I shellacked the egg white. While the challah baked, there was a woody-wheat smell throughout my apartment.
At the end of the process that I didn’t think I could do, I had spiritual and physical tasty whole wheat challah to share!
And a sense of accomplishment! I committed to one small step, took it, saw that I could accomplish it, and could move on to the next step.
Here’s my challah-baking-task-accomplishing recipe:
- Create a do-able plan that has three to five steps.
- Commit to accomplishing one step.
- Pray or take some spiritual action before that first step.
- Take the first step.
- Do more spiritual activity.
- This can be a simple plea like, “Help me.”
- Take another step.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you complete your plan.
- Look at your accomplishment and celebrate!