cover image The Sacred Life of Bread: Understanding the Mystery of an Ordinary Loaf

The Sacred Life of Bread: Understanding the Mystery of an Ordinary Loaf

Meghan Murphy-Gill. Broadleaf, $25.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-506-48223-1

Priest Murphy-Gill takes readers from grain to oven-fresh loaf in her fun debut, a look at what bread and baking reveal about faith. The author recalls baking her first “simple blend of yeast and flour and salt and water” during study breaks as a seminary student knee-deep in dense theological readings; watching it cool, she was struck at how “bread needed no text to speak of sacred things... the scent lingered all afternoon, beguiling me with promises of comfort and satisfaction, of love and community.” From then on, bread baking became “a spiritual practice and ongoing pilgrimage” for Murphy-Gill, who recounts recreating the caraway-filled Irish soda bread of her childhood and dreaming up gluten-free communion bread as a priest. She holds forth on how the baking process teaches patience (“Bread becomes bread in God’s time, a cycle that starts in the soil as grain”) and delves into the significance of the Eucharistic practice of breaking bread “in the name and in communion with God and others.” Murphy-Gill gracefully weaves explorations of spiritual and physical sustenance, delivering some gems (“recipes are best when approached like written prayers... they offer insight into practice but never promise mastery”) and concluding chapters with recipes for the likes of Finnish rye bread and pizza dough with black emmer. The result is an offering Christians will enjoy taking a bite out of. (June)