Friday, May 05, 2017

Fava Bean Meditation

היום ארבעה ועשרים יום, שהם שלשה שבועות ושלשה ימים, בעמר
Today is twenty-four days, which is three weeks and three days, of the omer
תפארת שבנצח
A day of compassion in a week of perseverance

I live in the world of the Gregorian calendar, I practice and work in the world of the Jewish calendar, and I eat in the world of the California agricultural seasons. All three have highs and lows, with predictable patterns that still manage to bring surprises.

One of the joys of eating seasonally is getting those first fruits that mark the season. That will be celebrated in the Jewish world during Shavuot in, as we know from this count, twenty-six days :) But it's happening right now in my farmers' market. Cherries have made their appearance, and for a brief time, there will be fresh fava beans.

Fresh fava beans have a crispness that isn't there when the beans are cooked from dried. They are a commitment to prepare, with a three step process--depod, blanch, peel--needed before starting to work with them. Sometimes I wonder whether it is worth it.

While peeling beans today, memories of time spent at Tassajara Zen Center Hot Springs during guest season floated into my mind. There are many reasons why that is a very special place, one being the food. It's not just the taste of the food and the sharing of the food; it's also knowing that it is prepared by people who are making preparing the food part of their practice.

And that's what I did today. Peeling the beans felt tedious until I stopped and just stayed in the present while I went bean to bean, not counting how many beans left, not thinking, "well, maybe I have enough." I just stayed with the rhythm of each bean until there were no more. It was a form of meditation, a well-needed break from the world outside. And like the students at Tassajara, it integrated my practice into my life. A lesson of compassion and perseverance.

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