This morning we finished the accumulation of praises to Tara that I mentioned back in January when we began. When I wrote a friend back in February that things were busy, he joked back that it was no wonder, considering we were soliciting a meditation deity associated with activity and prompt reaction every darn morning.
Well, it’s been three months and they’ve been very active. In addition to all the studying and cleaning I’ve moaned about a bit, I also joined the web and communications team. Part of my role has been helping to start Dhagpo’s first blog, a chronicle of the events at the center related to our fortieth anniversary. And guess what, it exists in English too! Curious about what we’re up to? You can read along here. If you click on an article, you can switch the little country flag in the top right corner to read in English. We’re still working out a few kinks with the translation plug-ins, so the whole site isn’t available in English yet.
Working on web and comm business, I’m learning a lot lately about hard work that goes unseen. Most of time when we’re on the internet, things are streamlined and reliable. Typos and broken links are considered affronts, signs of people or organizations that don’t know what they’re doing.
Having spent the last week entering the new program into Dhagpo’s website, hand copying each course title and changing the dates in the website platform software, I’m starting to see how carefully created the online world is. I’ve been writing this blog for almost three years, and I basically just picked a layout and stuck with it. I never really took the time to explore the complexity behind it.
Joining the web and communications teams at the center shows me just one minute example of the hours of meticulous effort that go into making this place run. It starts me thinking of all the long and serious labors of love that people here carry out that never get noticed or acknowledged. Sometimes in a volunteer community, there are moments when I’ve asked myself or seen other people asking why something isn’t done (why isn’t the community fridge clean; why didn’t you write back to my e-mail, etc).
With a few exceptions for legal reasons (the cook and accountant mainly) nobody’s paid and we’re here because we want to be. Sometimes when we’re working extra hard to make a certain project happen or because it’s a busy time for one department or another, we tend to wonder what the heck everybody else is doing. Just barely poking my nose into a new department, I get the feeling that if we looked into details anywhere, we’d be amazed to see all the hard work and care that go into every aspect of what happens here.
When you care about something, there’s often a tendency to want to see it constantly improving and there can be impatience about the things that aren’t the way we want them. I see it all the time here: why is the logo a bit dated, why aren’t the electrical connections in the temple that cause occasionally blinky lights fixed yet, why isn’t there a lounge for course participants, why is the hill behind the Institute only partially landscaped? We have a tendency to think somebody must be slacking if things that seem important aren’t done. But I’m starting to think that nobody’s slacking. We’re all applying ourselves with loads of dedication and this is just what’s possible for the moment.
Sometimes, when I work hard and I just see lots more hard work ahead, the days feel foregone. It’s a long damn road. But then I remember that this is how most things get done in life. Not by magic or sudden cataclysim. By regular effort over long days or months or years. When I remind myself of that, I find there’s also something comforting in the rhythm; there’s a stability in hard work. I know that through my daily efforts I’m adding something to the world around me and developing endurance and resilience within myself. It’s a different kind of daily bread than the common sort, but just as nourishing if not more. And I’ve got actual daily bread to keep me going for the rest.
For kicks this week, I included hibiscus petals in my bread and found they add a subtle fruity kick to breakfast. I threw in some coriander for a little spice and brightness and used spelt flour because it’s gentler on the tummy. Nourishment for the long road; it’s a good thing.
A little musical nourishment, too…here’s my bread making and internet updating soundtrack for the evening. Clifton Hicks and Julie Chiles playing a cradling, twanging folk tune called Rocky Island. I’m a bluegrass nerd, if you didn’t know.
Hibiscus Coriander Spelt Bread
1 3/4 cups (420mL) water, plus more for soaking the hibiscus
2 tablespoons (35 grams) dried hibiscus petals
1 tablespoons (15 mL) barley malt syrup or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons (5 grams) active dry yeast
4 cups (500 grams) wholegrain spelt flour
1 cup (125 grams) white spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (10 grams) coriander seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil for rising
Boil the water. Steep the hibiscus petals int he hot water for five minutes, then strain out the flowers and set them aside. Measure the remaining water and add COLD water until you have 1 3/4 cups (420 mL) again. Place the water in a large bowl. Stir in the barley malt syrup, then sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to stand five minutes. Add the flour, salt, coriander seeds, and reserved hibiscus petals. Knead for five to ten minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. It will still be slightly sticky.
Pour the oil into a large bowl and swirl the bowl until the oil cover the bottom. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it over until it is covered in oil. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour. Flatten gently. Roll into a loaf shape and place in a loaf pan to rise for another forty minutes. Depending on the size of your loaf pan, you may have to bake some dough apart as rolls. If the dough fills the pan more than half way when place inside, remove the extra and form rounds to the size of your liking.
Fifteen minutes before the rise is finished, preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C). Bake the loaf for one hour, or until it sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped. If you make rolls, begin checking them for doneness at twenty minutes, using the hollow tap method. Allow the loaf to cool at least one hour before slicing. Rolls may be eaten immediately.