Kingdom of Heaven: Leaven, Part One and Part Two

This two-part poem is inspired by another Kingdom of Heaven parable: this one about a woman making bread.  Here is the passage, from Matthew 13:33: “Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.”  I think it is interesting that most of the references to leaven in the Bible are negative: “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, . . . purge out therefore the old leaven . . .” yet, in this instance, leaven acts in a positive way, as the Kingdom of Heaven permeates the person or culture in which it is hidden.

For years, when our children were young, I baked bread weekly, and I had the opportunity to observe the miracle of yeast upon a lumpy wad of dough.  I would knead the leaven into the dough, oil the mass, and place it in a warm spot, covered with a tea towel.  Usually, I wouldn’t bother to check on it for awhile.  When I came back though, invariably, the miracle had happened; the stiff, knobby ball had transformed into a smooth, round, airy loaf, ready for the oven.  All because of the action of the yeast, transfiguring from within.

That’s what the first part of this poem set talks about, the physical action that takes place when leaven (yeast, or sponge) is added to flour.  The second part looks at the miracle of leaven as it relates to the Kingdom of Heaven, specifically the Kingdom of Heaven within those of us who believe (behold, the kingdom of God is within you.–Luke 17:21).

Each poem is a Rondeau (see the explanation of this form in “Light of the World” on this blog).  The rentrement is “transfigured from within,” and the form is AABBA AABR AABBAR, iambic pentameter.

Leaven, Part One

Transfigured from within, though I don’t know

The moment when the sponge infused the dough.

It must have happened, though, because I see

The end result, as different as can be

From flattened lump I mixed not long ago.

.

Exposure to the yeast began, first slow

‘Til I divided and commenced to throw

And knead each piece, and then to watch all three

Transfigured from within.

.

Was it the pounding, shaping, every blow

I worked into each batch that made it grow?

Or was it just the presence or degree

Of leaven in my pastry that was key

To making lifeless mass now overflow–

Transfigured from within.

.

Leaven, Part Two

Transfigured from within, this lump of clay

But not because I made myself obey.

Instead, the difference that I see outside

Came when that kingdom started to reside

Inside my soul, as I believed the Way.

.

I cannot tell you minute, hour, or day

When leaven from Above suffused to stay.

I only know that I’ve been modified,

Transfigured from within.

.

Was it the pounding pain that made me pray?

The kneading, shaping, Holy interplay?

Or was it just the presence, amplified,

Of Word expanding where my old man died?

This loaf, when proofed, those workings will display:

Transfigured from within.

.

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