The Path of Mastication

One Carrot's Story By Cindy Meier

Once upon a time there was a baby carrot. She was very happy in the black earth, nestled next to rocks, caressed by snails. She was bright orange and fresh. Each day the sun shone its nourishing rays on her. Each day a little rain fell and watered the hair on her head, and she grew and grew. She was one happy carrot.

But one day, a farmer plucked the carrot from the earth, her home. She was thrown into a crate with her brothers and sisters. She thought her life was over. The carrot was wrapped in plastic, put in a truck, and delivered to the kitchen at a retreat center. There, the cook unwrapped her, washed her carefully, and took her to a board. The cook lifted his sharp knife and again, the carrot thought her life was over as he chopped her into three pieces.

Two of the pieces were cooked in a stew with other vegetables for people on the retreat. As the stew boiled and the carrot felt her skin soften, she thought, "This time, I will surely die." The two pieces of the carrot were served in a beautiful tin pan with onions and squash and pepper. The carrot waited.

One piece of carrot was spooned into a bowl by a monk. As the monk slowly and mindfully chewed his piece of carrot, she felt herself transforming into the body of the monk. She became his hands and heart and brown eyes. She became the monk! And as the monk went on to be a great teacher, the carrot touched thousands of people through his voice, through his thoughts, through his touch. The carrot was very happy.

The second piece of carrot was scooped into a bowl by another retreatant, who had not yet learned the art of mindful eating. The carrot piece was swallowed whole and the next morning, she found herself in the sewage system traveling to the sewage treatment plant. Once she arrived at the plant, she was pulverized and treated and transformed into water for the grass of the city parks. There, the carrot, now water, sprinkled onto a playground where she could feel the feet of little children and hear the sound of their laughter. The carrot was very happy.

The third and last piece of carrot did not make it to the stew. A spot where a snail had slept against the carrot made the cook toss her into a bucket. She thought she would die for sure, separated from the rest of herself. But the retreat center composted food scraps, and the carrot joined other vegetables and fruits being transported to the garden. The sun shone, the wind blew, the rain fell. Soon, she was no longer her bright orange self, but was transformed into rich black earth. Now she found herself nourishing a new crop of baby carrots, along with the warm sun and sweet rain. And the carrot was very happy.

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Cindy Meier, Refreshing Still Water of the Heart, lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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