Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Miracles Everywhere: A Moment in Kindergarten

"When we live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere."  —Thich Nhat Hahn

As snack time got underway, I found a chair at M’s table and sat down with her and three of her friends—four five year olds whose combined 20 years on earth total about one-third of my almost 60 years around here.

M. had brought the apples—crisp organic Galas we had just cored and sliced into wedges.

I lifted one of the apple wedges to my mouth and bit off a small piece. Closing my eyes I slowly crushed it between my molars and let sweet juice mix with my saliva. Slowly, I chewed this little morsel again and again, slowly, until the last of its form liquified into a formless, pulpy juice. I swallowed,  emptying my mouth of all but a lingering sweetness. I let my eyes open and said, “Apple trees are so magical.”

“Magical? Apple trees?”

“Oh, yes!” I went on. “Deep, deep magic—a miracle, really.”

“It’s just a regular apple,” M said somewhat skeptically. I wondered if I had made too much of a spectacle eating this one bite of apple.

“Yes, it’s a regular apple! Regular apples are miracles!  Clouds become millions of raindrops and fall to the earth and soak into the ground. Apple trees have roots that sip the water out of the soil. Somehow trees also know how to pull out of the soil just exactly the right minerals they need to make wood, bark, leaves, and apples, using sunlight for power and ancient magic they got from their ancestors for the how-to-do-it. They made the sweet juice and crispy apple flesh that just filled my mouth. It’s a miracle that apple trees know how to do this.”

I took a second bite of the wedge and closed my eyes again. I decided to simply enjoy the flavorful moment and not to go on about seeds and oxygen.

12 comments:

Ruth said...

Like Cézanne said to his sitting subjects, you were "being" the apple. :) It's a tremendous thing to meditate on what has gone before to create what we eat. And to enjoy food slowly.

George said...

A lovely post, Dan, and you are so right: Apples are miracles, indeed, as is everything else! I'm so glad that there are people like you who are helping young children understand the miracles of life.

The Pollinatrix said...

Those kids are blessed to have you, Dan.

steven said...

dan since the new year i have taken to eating with my class - they sit in groups so i rotate group by group. each day they prepare a song to share with me or they can ask me to share a song. then we each tell stories. they can be real or imaginary. then we talk about our food and why we like it so much . . . which presumably is why we brought it for our lunch. ten, eleven, twelve years old. they are so overjoyed to have the "old guy" sit with them. it's pure joy dan - but you know that don't you!!! steven

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Ruth. Thank you for visiting this salon! I hardly manage to take a bite now without trying to imagine the many efforts of many life forms to bring the food to me. It fills me with gratitude. Slowing down helps us pay attention to what we eat and enjoy it more.

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, George, for stopping by and offering your appreciation. Many times, the children offer me their grasp of the miracles of life; it's an exchange of wonder, a wondrous exchange. Of course not every moment hold magic--oh, how I wish it were so!--but enough moments do, many moments do. I feel very fortunate to see miracles as often as I do.

Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Polli. As I was saying to George, while it may be so what you say, it's equally true that I am blessed to have their company.... and your company, too!

Dan Gurney said...

steven, you are a rare teacher! How lucky your students are. I wish I had had the good fortune to have a teacher like you at ten, eleven, twelve. Such and important time. My mind reels at how lucky your students are.

Funny. At our meal, we sing, too. Tell stories, too. Talk about the food too. Wow.

Paul C said...

Teacher talk....Dan, Steve wonderful lessons and role models for your students. Dan, your post reminds me of the tangerine meditation that Hanh provides in Peace Is Every STep. I like your quote, too, being aware means there are miracles everywhere.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Paul. Thanks for this. It is quite perceptive of you to see that connection. Actually it was reading TNH's writings on mindful eating that inspired my teaching like this. I first ran across that tangerine story when he was traveling around the US with the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the seventies. It was long before he was famous.

LauraX said...

I'm imagining this is a lesson that will awaken again and again for these children, surprising them throughout their lives, perhaps not every time they bite an apple...but often enough to help them appreciate the preciousness of life.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi LauraX, I think that's right. I eat apples, lots of things, mindlessly a lot of the time. But not always....