It was the first thing I said to Paola when she mentioned her Dolce di San Giovanni project. I know her determination and passion, but I didn’t really know what it was this time. My friend is volcanic, creative, and with a great vision. It was clear to me that it was a very beautiful and hopeful thing. The first organized and supportive productions were starting with some of her friends and fellow believers and with the support of the boys of the Ferrante Aporti juvenile prison.
Yes, to get your hands in the dough. A challenge for me convinced that I am only capable of making brick cakes, shoe-soled biscuits, and recovering from yet another deadly crisis. “My Life is worth nothing”, I repeated to myself, disheartened by the difficulties that the failure to renew a worn-out business consultancy I had to face. An opportunity, from another point of view. My Buddhist faith has always inspired and supported me over the years. I tried to redetermine to get up because every adversity, even the greatest, can become a splendid opportunity for evolution for truly more authentic happiness and victory.
I felt that together with prayer it was very important to start over from one of my limits and to do with ever more love, presence, and awareness of the things that Life was proposing to me at that moment. Work in the greenhouse with Manuela to collect strawberries, repetitions and lessons for the exams, night care in the hospital: precious opportunities to focus on the here and now and on the awareness of my every gesture. I talked to each strawberry thanking it when it was time to detach it from the plant. I encouraged a boy in crisis to face a stumbling block that seemed insurmountable to him with courage and creativity. I whispered words of love and hope to an elderly lady passing away at the hospital.
Yes, folks, and it’s okay to challenge each other too, but make cakes, damn it! I repeated it to myself with an all too sticky complaint. And what’s more, I was the one who ran for it! Then I told myself this complaint was not from me, and I decided. I put on my overcoat and went out, very tired and eyes swollen with tears. Yes, I let myself be persuaded by Paola to go and get my hands on it. After all, it was I who had asked for it. I couldn’t hold back!
My fear of being inadequate between friends and cheerful chatter quickly gave way to beautiful memories of when my grandma called me to the kitchen to make sweets with her. It was a privilege that not all grandchildren had.
And so the scents and the slightly crunchy shell shape of the Dolce di San Giovanni brought me back to her, Oma, my beloved grandmother. He called me golden pheasant with silver legs because I was often ill and convalescing in his beautiful house on the lake in Austria. But it was my luck because instead of making me do my homework or send me to the garden to play with those tomboy cousins, my dear Oma kept me with her.
Now with my new sisters and friends, as we baked one cake after another, I remembered that grandma taught me that when you mix a filling, until you hear a certain kind of gentle touch from the wooden spoon against the bowl, you must never stop, even if your arm hurts. She had great energy and rough wisdom of her own, but was very tender and particular.
Meanwhile, between a prayer, encouragement, and a smile, that first time in the small kitchen where we were baking Dolce di San Giovanni had at our disposal it was late. The scent was magnificent. I had managed to do one; indeed, two cakes, and even good ones! Now my silver paws shone with a new light and that beautiful pheasant that I had never allowed myself to be, was now also ready to take flight and see from above in a clear sky all the beauty and love of my life.