According to CNN, banana bread is having “a moment.”
In the last month, this baked good’s popularity has sky-rocketed, as it became the most searched for recipe online. Personally, I can confirm this trend: Friends and acquaintances share pictures online, and I myself have made banana bread at least once since I began to shelter-in-place.
Why the sudden popularity for banana bread? Perhaps it comes from boredom, an excess of time, or simply an abundance of ripe bananas, but while we have committed to staying in our homes, with many of us working and schooling from them, I have noticed an increase in people making things.
It’s not just banana bread: Some bake sourdough or cookies. Others have stayed away from the kitchen, instead growing a garden or sewing masks. Stuck at home, people are engaging in little acts of creation.
American writer Annie Dillard once wrote, “Every live thing is a survivor on a kind of extended emergency bivouac. But at the same time, we are also created.” The tension between these two sentences has never felt more intense.
Each day, we are faced with the reality of survival and the grief that not everyone is surviving. Not only is the loss of life devastating, some of our institutions and traditions may not make it, livelihoods are disappearing, and anxiety and other mental health problems are exacerbated. The need to survive, to make it through each day, is a struggle many are facing.
And yet, at the same time, we are not beings whose only purpose is to make it to the next day. We are created. We are more than just survival.
With every photo of a little act of creation shared, I am reminded that we are created for something and capable of creating some things.
Though it takes time and resources to make complicated recipes or other projects, something not everyone has, these little acts of creation are vital in a time when we are understandably preoccupied with survival. They press pause on worry and connect us to the world around us. To the earth we garden, to our bodies we nourish, to others as we share our little creations.
We are created for something — and that might look different for each of us — but taking part in the creative process is a reminder that there is more to life than solely surviving.
In light of the trauma we are facing, perhaps little acts of creation are not enough. They might feel trivial or even offensive when stacked against the grief in this world.
But we live as both survivors and creatures. We are both people who grieve and people who find joy in our lives. When the balance swings too far into fear over survival, it can help to back lean into creation; to pause, to do something with our hands, and even bake some banana bread.
Caroline Barnett is the associate pastor and campus minister at First Presbyterian Church in Auburn.