Baking bread – 27 July 2020
A woman stands by a table at a window needing bread. At her side is a tray of loaves ready for the oven. The centre of the picture is full of the bright light from beyond the room, so highlighting the activity of needing the bread. This light lifts the everyday, ordinary, activity, and gives it greater meaning. This activity is the at the heart of something, is important.
In many of the parables of the Kingdom of God, Jesus takes activities such as this one and says ‘this is what the kingdom is like’. So, an illustration of the kingdom is that of a woman, taking yeast, and working it into flour, just as we see here. Through this activity she makes the bread edible and light. What a feast this bread will be.
The picture, Baking-bread (1895), is by the Swedish artist Charlotte Mannheimer (born Abrahamson). Charlotte Mannheimer was considered a great talent, but, like many women, she had to give up painting when she married. Nevertheless, she became an influential figure on the art scene, through her involvement as a patron and exhibitor of other artists’ work.
Jesus told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf.
R S Thomas, The Kingdom