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20201009-law-hill-col-1

Stephanie Hill | The Lawrence Herald

Each item, by itself, might not taste good, but when combined together and transformed by the heat of an oven, they come come together to create a sweet cake.

“Take the broken pieces of your life, bake a master cake out of it.” — Israelmore Ayivore

“Life is a cake and love is the icing on top of it. Without love, it becomes difficult to swallow life.” — Mehek Bassi

Have you ever tasted flour or baking powder? What about vanilla extract, unsweetened canned pumpkin, cinnamon, salt or even a raw egg — how would each item taste on its own?

If all of these ingredients are baked together with some oil or applesauce, and perhaps some milk, you have the makings of a pumpkin spice cake, a fall favorite.

There can be no doubt that 2020 has been full of harsh ingredients. From the bitter taste of a pandemic causing the senseless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people to acidic rhetoric and social media posts.

From the salty feeling left from closures, unemployment, and economic fallout to the bittersweet taste of quarantining at home, increasing feelings of isolation, anxiety, depression, and fanning the flames of fear. Jobs have been lost. People are hurting, struggling, striving, and worst of all, dying. At times, it feels as if it is just too much, especially if we dwell upon all those negatives.

This is where the lesson of the cake began to reveal a few frosted edges of hope. While I am not denying the bitterness, dryness, and acrid taste of this year, nor am I denying the very realness of life-altering, horrible events — I, too, have visited and dwelled in the valley of woe, and I find wallowing around in my own misery isn’t beneficial.

So I am challenging myself, and you too, Dear Reader, to take these negative ingredients and create a bite of sweet hope.

I believe in the old adage that hope springs eternal. I put my trust in my faith and love. I still believe in a world in which faith, hope, and love can make a difference. This belief has waned and worn at times. And yet, I am reminded of a hymn my grandmother used to sing that was based on one of her favorite Bible passages:

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength/They shall mount up with wings as eagles/They shall run and not be weary/They shall walk and not faint/ Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.” — Bill and Gloria Gaither

When I bake a cake, it takes time. First of all, I have to gather all of the ingredients, preheat the oven and prepare the pan. The dry ingredients are blended together, while in another bowl, the wet ingredients are mixed. Wet ingredients are folded into the dry ingredients, and a lump of gooey-looking gunk gets dumped in a heap in the cake pan and placed into a scalding hot oven. Time passes slowly as the kitchen is gradually filled with the scents — hope of what is to come. Even once removed, one still has to wait for the cake to cool before it can be frosted.

Eventually, the working and waiting, wishing and hoping come together as a fork delves from cake to mouth, and soon the taste buds are dancing, the brain is singing a song of praise, and all tastes dreamy sweet in that one moment in time. Sure, the cake doesn’t last forever, and neither do good times.

Thus, if we want more cake, we have to endure the bitter with acid, the bland with spice, the heating with the cooling period and all the in-between moments. And, yet, it is the cake that is remembered, not the bitter taste of all the individual ingredients.

2020 has certainly been rancorous at times. Life, on the whole, can be as challenging, and run as hot as a 350-degree oven. Waiting can be hard. Therefore, as I put my faith in the baking process, so too, must I put my faith in Divine Providence, and humbly ask, as my grandmother used to sing, “Teach me, Lord, teach me, Lord, to wait.” Cake is coming soon.

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.

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