Wake up. Pay Attention.
It matters little to the soul in what manner
it is obliged to abandon itself,
and what the present moment contains;
all that is absolutely necessary
is that it should abandon itself unreservedly.
Jean Pierre de Caussade
Don’t gobble it.
Don’t do anything else while you are eating it.
Do not read email.
Do not watch TV.
Do not adjust your makeup.
Do not drive the car.
Do not talk to someone.
Do not try to write about eating chocolate.
Sit down. (This is going to take a while.)
See the wrapper.
Examine it, noting the color, graphics, ingredients, and company information.
See the lineage of your chocolate.
A small tree is tucked under the upper canopy of the rainforest, probably in West Africa. Anchored in rich soil, bathed in high humidity and tropical heat, the cacao tree sways in the breeze. A tiny midge, bred in the tree’s decaying leaves on the forest floor, begins its journey upward to crawl within the five petals of the white, dime-sized flowers blooming directly from the trunk. After the flower fades, a pod develops, stuffed with seeds, which are picked, fermented, dried, and ground to make your chocolate.
See the farmer who planted and cared for the cacao tree.
See the workers harvesting the beans, hauling the harvest, inventing, and operating machines. See the long train of people who have brought this chocolate to your hands and at what price? How many were children? Who suffered? Who gained? What has it taken to bring this smoky rich flavor to your mouth? How many miles has it traveled on someone’s back, by cart, conveyor belt, crate, ship, plane, or truck? How many hands has it passed through – plantation owner, shipper, factory worker, buyer, grocery stocker, check out clerk – to bring it to your hand?
Relax. There is no rush here. Not now.
You hold eternity in your palm.
To pay attention and be fully present in each moment is to meet eternity. For each moment offers in its endless treasures all you will ever need for that moment. Some call this the sacrament of the present moment, or being present. Others call it mindfulness. Jesus called this quality of trust-filled awareness the kingdom of God.
Remove the wrapper.
Feel the weight, see the color and shape of the chocolate. Lift it to your nose and sniff its fragrance. Do you catch the whiff of forest nights, heavy with insect song and stars?
Run your finger over the chocolate. Is it smooth like satin, rough, or molded in some way?
Break off a piece. See it separate and reveal its interior.
Now bring it to your mouth.
Wait. You are getting ahead of yourself.
Do not eat it before you eat it.
First, bring it to your mouth to bring it to your mouth.
Pay attention to the impulse to lift your hand and the complex brain chemistry and mechanics of respiration, circulation, nerve, muscle, tendon, and bone, which perform this feat at your merest whim.
Feel the chocolate touch your lips. Run your tongue over the surface.
your teeth into it until the chocolate gives itself to you
and splits in two.
Hold the forest, the flower, the midge, the wind, the suffering,
the unappeasable appetite of commerce, a thousand sweaty hands,
and a thousand sultry nights
in your mouth.
Feel them soften and release their sweet, spreading river of bitter, buttery cacao.
Mindfulness is the miracle by which we master and restore ourselves. It is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each moment of life. Thich Naht Hahn
The present is ever filled with infinite treasure, it contains more than you have capacity to hold. . . .The divine will is a deep abyss of which the present moment is the entrance. If you plunge into this abyss you will find it infinitely more vast than your desires. Jean Pierre de Caussade
Eat something mindfully, awake and aware in the present moment, and write about your experience. How did you feel when you began this exercise? How did you feel when you completed it? What did you notice, experience, or learn?
Friends, I will be away from writing and reading for the next two weeks . I will spend ten days in silence and meditation, practicing mindfulness, as I walk, breathe, wash my face, and eat a little chocolate.
Perhaps we will meet in the spaces of eternity in each new moment.
Until then, pay attention!