Gathering sweetness: an on-the-spot meditation

I’ve been listening to the audiobook of Michael Pollan’s Cooked in the car, and he’s been making me hungry. First for BBQ, then for soups and stews and braises, and now for bread. It’s a great listen (and a wonderful reminder that cooking can be a form of meditation).

This morning, Pollan described his newfound tradition of Sunday afternoons in the kitchen, prepping homemade meals for the week. He mentioned that his son, who is in high school, often brings his laptop into the kitchen and that they share a few hours of easy togetherness, sometimes in conversation, but often in side-by-side silence.

He referred to the “sweetness” of spending this time with a child who he knows will soon be leaving for college.

Sweetness. Yes. Not, this time, the sweetness of food, but the sweetness of being with another person.

I know what he means about those moments with children, and I bet you do too. It’s a special kind of grace-filled presence, a warm honey-suffused togetherness. Quiet, bright joy with a thin ripple of poignancy running through it.IMG_0272_2

Sweetness can’t be forced, just given space to emerge and then noticed and appreciated when it bubbles up.

Sweetness can’t be kept, but memories of it are the ones I would pay large sums to return to, even if only for a few seconds.

The moment when a baby trusts its way into sleep in your arms while fading sunlight paints the shadows of tree branches onto the bedroom wall. The times when you read a book to a preschooler and her weight feels perfect in your lap, and you would gladly read the same book four times in a row. The instant that you and your third grader both see the cardinal sitting right outside the window, and you smile but say nothing. The five seconds when a 12-year-old son reaches for your hand and gives it a quick squeeze while trees drop yellow leaves overhead. The moment when a group of 4th graders sits up from a long savasana and every face in the yoga room is smooth and open and calm, and one student rests her head on a friend’s shoulder and we all just sit without talking for an extra minute.

In moments of sweetness, life makes beautiful, benevolent sense. 

It has something to do with feeling safe, with appreciating right now, with relaxing into the world and toward another person at the same time.

Sweetness is here, but if we’re moving too fast, too glued to our screens, too worried about what we’re doing and how we’re doing, and what our kids are or are not doing, we might miss it.

Here’s an idea for this harvesting time of the year: gather the sweetness, the little raspberries and peaches and plums and drops of honey that you find with the children in your life, whether at home or in a classroom.

Buy a small notebook.

In the 112 days we have left this year, days that you will have no trouble filling with school and homework and activities, with Halloween and Thanksgiving, and the frenzy of December, with work and meals and all the goodies the world serves up on our glowing screens, take a few minutes to slow down and see if you can fill even a quarter of that book with 1-2 sentence reminders of sweet moments.

If you look, you’ll find them. Yum.