Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I just returned from food shopping-a new feature of my life since retirement-and in the bag of groceries was a tin of oatmeal-John McCann steel cut Oat meal-on the cover of the tin the buyer is informed that it won a certificate of award at the international exhibition of 1876 and is produced in County Kildare, Ireland. I am not impressed by packaging gimmicks or clever advertising tricks;this product was recommended by a good friend and as someone who loves oatmeal I decided to give this brand a try. A further reluctance to purchase this item had to do with its preparation-it was not done instantaneously in a microwave but required the traditional procedures of boiling water, cooking the grains and letting the mixture simmer with occasional stirring.
Too much work, I thought!
Well, I am now hooked on my morning McCann's oatmeal. This simple act of boiling water and adding the oatmeal which takes no more than 15-20 minutes has been another lesson in learning to be grateful for the mystery of simple things in life.
To prepare the oatmeal has slowed me down internally.The need for patience, for the simple deliberate steps of measuring 2 cups of water, bringing the water to a brisk boil, stirring the oatmeal, allowing it to simmer, all introduce a ritual or practice that reminds me to be mindful of what I eat and how I arrive at a delicious food that is both edible and nutritious.
Other remarkable benefits bless this activity. Have you ever carefully observed the dance of brisk popping bubbles in a pot of boiling water? Have you ever stopped to listen to these tiny balloons pop in the hush of an early morning"s sacred silence? Have you ever witnessed the miracle of a natural hard grain transforming itself into a soft and spongy substance ,a source of nurturance and life for humans and other sentient beings? Have you ever inhaled the warm, sweet scents of a breakfast of steaming oatmeal evoking olifactory memories of a child snuggled under protective covers on an early morning of a cold winter's day?

Together with morning prayers, I have added the preparation of oatmeal to my daily act of thanksgiving and gratitude. Who knows? Perhaps this simple act will lead to the more elaborate preparation of cooking full meals for my wife and family!

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