Godless Grace & the Almighty Onion
MMUF ~ Mindful Minute Up Front:
Do we need God to be grateful? Being a Foodie isn’t just what & where we eat, but HOW we eat. This is the story of Griffin, an onion, and Godless Grace.
With garlic in the air, the child sniper fired on me. In the middle of the battlefield, a mountain of homemade fettuccine - of course in both red and white sauce.
The friendly fire was at a family dinner. The verbal zing shot by a scrawny golden haired boy. As 11 year-olds are, Griffin was inquisitive and had zero filter. Yet staring at me, he was utterly baffled. His face contorted in all directions while his jaw hung in mid air.
See before I eat - I pause. I pause - to say grace. When I finished my grace, bewildered Griffin erupted at the seems (see the end for the Godless Grace).
“Wow, you really hit the pause button!”, he said.
“Yes I did”, I chuckled.
“Are you religious?” With my dating site quip ready, “No, spiritual but not religious”.
“What are you praying to then?”, he chirped.
“Do we need God to be grateful? To live thoughtfully and compassionately? I am simply pausing - I pause for the grace of gratitude. I pause to honor the almighty onion”.
The almighty onion you wonder? More on that Cosmic Recipe later. But first, let’s quickly cover the ‘death’ of God.
‘GOD IS DEAD’, BUT WHY NOT RESURRECT GRACE?
“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him”, claimed Nietzsche in his classic The Gay Science. And with his ‘rational’ murder at the hands of the enlightenment, so it seems we killed the tradition of grace.
Grace used to be apart of everyday life. Part of every meal. But now it seems tainted with religiosity and pilgrims.
God may be dead, but does that mean we should surrender our morality and virtue? Do we need religion to pause for moments of gratitude?
With or without God, I want the grace of gratitude to thrive. Instead of a day for a Thanksgiving meal, why not give thanks at every meal? To be a foodie is not simply WHAT and WHERE you eat via Instagram. Rather, it’s also HOW you eat.
FOODIE VIRTUES: THE WHAT AND THE HOW
In our chaotic digital age, we are connected but losing connection. Authentic Connection to people, things, and moments. And especially our life source of food.
So for me, grace or not saying grace - is a demonstration of values. Maybe I am an organic Veganite. but do I hastily chow down via my caveman cravings?
Or do I pause. Not to God, but to everyone and everything that helped manifest this meal. And Instead of thanking the creator, can we not thank the magic of creation? The beautiful interconnected chaos of trillions upon trillions of events and creatures aligning just so. All to yield an onion.
See I always thought onions - were onions. But I was wrong. These modest aromatics changed my entire perspective on food. And per usual, led this MBA mystic to create a spreadsheet.
FROM SWEATING ONIONS TO SWEATY BUTT
Growing up I never said grace at meals. Food came and I ate it. But I know when the seed was planted. And it started with an onion seedling.
Following my yuppy curiosity, I was taking organic farming classes. But my romantic delusions soon shattered in the rolling hills of Sonoma, California. Hunched on all fours, aching and sweating in the summer sun, I was planting starter onions.
These three inch green shoots bursted out of tiny trays. And the more I planted the more I pondered.
I longed to know the Cosmic Recipe. What did it take to yield a single onion?
COSMIC RECIPES: ONE ALMIGHTY ONION
The cosmic recipe starts with the simple seed. A to go lunch box of protein, fat and carbs packed for baby plants, a seed can stay dormant for 2,000 years before spontaneously coming to life. Buried under 5 feet of snow, a seed can sense both the angle and intensity of the sun. There it waits and waits - awakening to life when conditions are just right.
What’s home? An artifact of time called topsoil. It takes 500 years to create just 5 inches of soil. In a perpetual cycle of birth and death, decaying plants and animals feed the future.
But this ‘artifact’ is actually a bumping biological dance party. Soil is alive with trillions of microbes and fungi. Within every cubic meter of soil, lives 1.5 KG (3.3 LBS) of organisms symbiotically churning the ‘earth’.
In this living ‘mother earth’ lies billion year old minerals that we need to survive. Like iron, born not in mountains, but in the hearts of stars. Supernovas blast iron across the cosmos. Iron dances from sun to earth. Soil to plants. Plants to animals. And finally into our blood and hearts.
What’s next for our onion? With our iron nourished hearts, add roughly 90 days of parental babysitting. Simmer with over 1,500 hours of loving sun from our 7 billion year old mother. With each photon of energy taking 1 billion years for nuclear fusion to poop it out. That newly born photon then waits in the longest bank line ever - taking 30-100,000 years to reach the sun’s surface.
Once free she races a speedily 500 seconds to our blue dot, kick-starting nature’s solar energy initiative- photosynthesis. Lube all this sunbathing with 20 liters of water and a few pollinating butterflies. Voila! A farmer can harvest.
All that for one damn onion! A recipe of recipes. The week before my class, I tossed out the extra half of my onion. And now? I will never look at the almighty onion the same.
THE POWER OF THE PAUSE
Thus the beauty of godless grace, is the power of pausing. Pausing for the awe of interconnection in every comic recipe.
Instead of simply swimming in primal pleasure - we first pause. We check in with the hunger. The fire of desire. Griffin’s glare.
And then we connect to our life source. We connect with the hearts and hands and everything in between that brought it to fruition. We pause to allow appreciation and awe to fill our hearts, stomachs and the moment.
Maybe gratitude is a platitude - but it doesn't make it untrue. And it feels damn good. So If a cow took a stun gun to the head, can we not pause to honor the meatball? So enjoy the bacon. Relish the mushroom burger. But a spiritual rationalist pauses. We pause to mindfully live our values.
So yes, I pause to honor the onion. The fish. The farmer. The Cosmic Recipe. I pause for this nourishing morsel, for without it I die. I pause to thank the hearts and hands that helped grow and cook it. I pause for the splendid chaos of interconnected systems that manifest it. Of cycles of death and birth. Of big bangs birthing Being. Of nourishing suns and sacrificial supernovas. To the living tapestry of life and death that is earth’s dirt. I pause for the linchpins of bees and butterflies. I pause for it all - all playing their part in a grand dance to grow an almighty onion.
This this is the grace of gratitude that I ‘pray’ to. The power of the pause I think we all should try. So with that Zen Rant, I finally share my Godless Grace.
Give Godless Grace (or any grace) a try and let me know how it goes.
With Grace & Grit ~ ALF
PS: Nerd Notes below + grace text (long and short version)
GODLESS GRACE (text):
Thank you for this meal,
Not simply its primal pleasure,
But its nourishment of heart and mind,
For without this miracle, I would not continue to be,
And for that I am eternally grateful.
So thank you for all the hearts and hands,
That helped grow, haul, and cook this meal.
Thank you for the gifts of mother earth & all of the cosmos,
And the trillions of sentient beings and forces in-between,
that played a role in manifesting this meal - to our table.
May this give me the energy to love myself & the world with an open-heart.
Spreading more joy & compassion & a little less suffering,
May all sentient beings be free of hunger and suffering,
And live with peace and ease.
Thank you for this meal,
and all the hearts and hands and everything in-between,
that helped manifest it to this table,
May this give me the energy to live with an open heart,
May we all live in peace and ease.
NERD NOTES: WHERE COOL KIDS PONDER MORE
SEED AGE: A preserved seed was found in a Jewish fort, Masada ( Wikipedia), that was sacked by Romans. 900 people committed mass suicide vs being captured. Anthropologist later discovered their food rations containing date psalm. They planted the seed and it germinated. Seeds!
COSMIC RECIPE OF PHOTONS: I wanted to know all the resource inputs (and their pre-requisite) to grow an onion. So per usual the MBS Mystic started a spreadsheet. For sun light there is no exact answer on ‘how old each photon is’. Like any mathematical model it has various variables and assumptions, thus the range of 10-170k. And that time is for energy/photons already produced by the sun’s fusion process. If you account for fusion, add 100M to 2 Billion years to the photon age. More reading here if you fellow nerds are interested.