Peter Reinhart, an award-winning master baker, has been a lifelong pilgrim. With forays into the foothills at Golgotha, stints in Asian monasteries and journeys along America's highways, Reinhart has always been "in search of samadhi, nirvana, illumination, self-realization, theosis, and union with God." His travels led him into many different communities, both spiritual and secular, before he landed in Providence, Rhode Island, as a lay brother in the Eastern Orthodox Christ the Saviour Brotherhood and a faculty member at Johnson & Wales University.

In "Bread Upon the Waters," his fourth book, Reinhart combines his love of baking with his spiritual quest, taking the family table as a metaphor for community. Among his stories of enlightenment, he weaves anecdotes about repasts he has enjoyed and bread he has baked to break among friends.

It is often suggested that we can increase the stability of our own families by eating together as often as possible. Simply chopping greens for the salad, tending a charcoal grill or setting a festive table all teach the lessons of care, patience and teamwork. Reinhart reinforces these ideas, by sharing with us numerous examples of transcendental moments that have taken place over challah, pita, sourdough, soft Thanksgiving dinner rolls, San Guiseppe bread and baguette.

Imagine this book inspiring a family or group retreat: use the book as a springboard for a spiritual discussion while everyone bakes a loaf of bread. Later, the group would gather around the family table to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Imagine expanding the retreat-cum-bake-off to a shelter, church, community, or senior center kitchen.

Books+bread+spiritual growth=community.

Oprah, are you listening?

reviewed by Tanya Indiana

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