There are a hundred thousand species of love, separately invented, each more ingenious than the last, and every one of them keeps making things. Douglas Powers
I was running in town with my husband one day last week. It was a rare blue-sky January day and I was enjoying the run. Without realizing it, I began to push the pace, running faster and faster. Of course, “fast” is a relative term these days.
Sourdough bread-making was on my agenda. I wanted to get home to begin mixing the dough at just the right moment, when my starter was frothy and alive but before the population of microorganisms it contained depleted their available food sources and began to crash.
I am not a COVID-inspired sourdough baker. My starter is over 10 years old. Keeping a sourdough starter alive is almost like having a billion tiny pets, all of whom need to be fed and cared for.
Years ago, I mixed whole wheat flour and pineapple juice together, and, voila – created a colony of ambient microorganisms I have nurtured ever since for completely selfish reasons.
The yeast in a starter is what gives the dough its rise. Saccharomyces and Candida species feed on the natural sugars found in the flour. They exhale carbon dioxide, forming bubbles so the bread is fluffy. Not enough yeast in the starter, and the resulting bread is a brick.
Sourdough gets its signature tang from the bacteria living in the starter. Lactobacillus species produce lactic acid, which tastes sour. Not enough bacteria in the starter, and the resulting bread is bland.
What I want to know is this: how did some person figure out all of this long ago? Not the names of the microorganisms or their roles in making sourdough bread, of course, but how to harness them to make something so satisfying and delicious?
We humans are inventors, ingenious and creative.
We have discovered how to make bread and sweaters, light bulbs, and rockets.
We know how to produce utilitarian objects like screwdrivers and washing machines. We know how to create beautiful things like sculptures and poems.
Creation is an act of love.
When we write an article, we invest thought and research, emotion and time. Then we send it out into the world, proud and hopeful. It’s almost like sending our children off to their first day of kindergarten.
I can imagine similar feelings arise when we knit a scarf, paint with watercolors, sew a quilt, design a building, build a birdhouse, or do any of the thousands of innovative and productive things we humans do.
This should not be surprising.
We were created in the image of the ultimate Creator.
If I was in charge of creating the universe, never in a million years could I have designed a platypus. And yet, there they so uncontrovertibly are, paddling away in the rivers and streams of Australia.
I could never have imagined the intricacy of a hemlock tree, the color palette of a cecropia moth, the delicate hidden filigree of root hairs that bind together every plant in a forest, or the lambent light reflected by the full moon. And yet…and yet.
If we send our watercolors and articles, our sculptures and poems and scarves and bread out into the world with love, how much more love must we receive when we are brought into existence?
After all, our love, which sometimes feels so powerful and wild, is a dim reflection of original Love. Our creations pale before the majesty and immense circumference of the original Creation.
We feel the joy of creation when we harvest homegrown basil and tomatoes just as God did when He surveyed His work. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)
Our pride and joy mirror His.
And one more thing.
Just like I am forever tinkering with my sourdough recipe, thinking that it might be better if I add cinnamon and raisins, or orange peel and toasted walnuts, or garlic and sesame seeds, God is constantly tinkering with us. His creation.
As Sarah Bessey says, “If we’re not changing, we’re not paying attention to either our lives or to the Holy Spirit.”
Just as sourdough starter evolves over the years, so do we.
Our flavors are deeper, the thoughts that bubble to the surface of our consciousness are richer and more complex, and we become more resilient as time goes by.
We are all works in progress.
Creation isn’t something that has happened in the distant past, it is happening right now, this minute.
Creation is happening in batik wall hangings and comic strips, in ceramic pottery and songs. It is happening in sourdough starter. And it is ongoing in each one of us.
How will you participate in creation today?