Center for Sacred Psychology

Soul Food Archive: Desserts & Snacks

Radha and Krishna
Radha and Krishna Feeding Each Other in the Glade
Western India, 19th century*

Desserts & Snacks can come in spiritual flavors. There are times when the hearty meal or novel fare just doesn’t appeal to our taste buds. Instead, we hunger for small after-dinner tidbits, simple comfort food, the treats of childhood. Here are some assorted tasty morsels and indulgences for times of spiritual play (and, no calories!).

Please visit our Main Courses and Guest Caterer Specials for heavier meals. Also, don’t forget our earlier offerings, stored in the Soul Food Archive. Your comments are always welcome. Read others' comments about this page.

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Earl and his human, Ozzie, pause to give thanks in a classic "Mutts" comic strip.* Cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, winner of many awards, features a week of Thanksgiving quotes each November, reminding worldwide readers of the joy which comes from a grateful heart.

The topic of GRATITUDE is in the air these days—in book titles, television shows, poetry, magazine and newspaper articles, online sites and newsletters, conference themes (for example: Spiritual Directors International 2010)...and cartoons.

We have varied reactions to this old word, ranging from:

 Oh, yes, I have so much for which to be grateful,
to
It’s easy for others to talk about gratitude—they don’t have my (or the world’s) problems.

 

Often, we may find ourselves saying something along the lines of:

Of course, I’m thankful…I just keep forgetting to count my blessings,
or
I even bought a 'gratitude journal'...but I never remember to write in it.

Here's a homemade sketch of two weeks on a calendar, showing the simplest way we've found to follow Meister Eckhart's advice. Nightly, this calendar-keeper has written just a few words to acknowledge a blessing of that day. Oh yes, of course an evening examen can be much more complex and thorough...the simplicity of a thought at the end of day seems a minimum. And, yes, we can speak, or silently pray, our thanksgivings. Writing, however, concretizes our awareness--and gives us a record to review: "Aha--look! There was something every day this week for which to be grateful." The small gifts, strung together, build up into garlands of graces. [See the work of Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast, and the website www.gratefulness.org, for rich material on rituals of gratitude in spiritual practice. The site www.uncommongratitude.com focuses on less-obvious triggers for thanksgiving, as per the recent book of this title by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams.]  

 

Notice how simple, even mundane, are the small gifts recorded here--and that, of course, is the point.  (Is a hard-won sports victory worthy of inclusion alongside the serious events of life?  Sure! if rooting for an athlete or team is among one’s simple pleasures.)  We can make our own extended calendars or use a printed one.  Keeping the calendar and a pen at hand (bedside often the best place), helps us remember this ten-second practice each evening and develop a more thankful heart.

Does focusing on gratefulness deny the aches and pains of our lives?  Is it a Pollyanna way of avoiding the sufferings of the world?  Of course not.   Just the opposite, in fact--our appreciations have ripple effects.  C.G.Jung wrote of how adding our tiny grains of light to the world scales helps to balance their heavy weight of negativity and pain, via some sort of mysterious cosmic economics.

As we record gratitudes regularly, we find ourselves watching for small blessings as the day unfolds; we develop mindfulness and right attention, as the Buddhists say.  Believers note themselves spotting such gifts and marveling, "It’s You!"...but the practice bears fruit even for those without conscious relationship to the holy.  Whatever our paradigm, we all can become--like Earl the dog and his Ozzie, above--observers and philosophers of the good.

 

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We're interested in ways this Soul Food may have touched your life.

Click HERE to send us your comments...

Read Others' Comments...


"I thank you for the idea about the calendar. When I fall into bed at night I'm too tired to write much or pray, but this I can do. Maybe when I am an old lady there will be more time and I can do more to show God my gratitude. This week I wrote down two special things--one was that my employer gave me a raise, and the other was that my son came for a visit. God is good. Thank you."
Celia G.
Panama

Dear Celia,
We're very glad this simple idea is useful to you. And, as the cartoon says, even if we never have more time in our lives (a very real possibility!), simple "Thank You"s are enough. So, in the spiritual life, finding what practice works at any time and being faithful to it (or them) is the path. God bless! and thank you for writing from Panama.
The Center staff.

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* Credits for this page:

~ Radha and Krishna Feeding Each Other in the Glade, Western India, 19th century

~ MUTTS © 2008 PATRICK MCDONNELL. KING FEATURES SYNDICATE.  Reproduced with permission. 
Since 1994, Patrick McDonnell's animals have graced comic pages in hundreds of newspapers around the world.  In addition to his featured dog and cat, other neighborhood animals have their day, as do endangered species, shelter animals, and creatures of the sea (including Crabby and Mussels Marinara).  They call their human companions in the strip--and readers--to gentle celebration of everyday life's simple joys, to Eckhart Tolle's "power of now."

The artist’s point of view is much like that of his childhood hero, "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz.  McDonnell writes, in his retrospective Mutts:The Comic Art of Patrick McDonnell (NY: Harry N.Abrams, 2003), of early learnings: that drawing can be a form of meditation and art can be a healing force.  He also outlines the history and process of comic strip creation and its place in the worlds of art history and popular culture.  Speaking of cartoonists, McDonnell writes, "I have a theory that in a previous life we were all monks illuminating manuscripts" (p.56).  For more "Mutts" lore see www.muttscomics.com.

 

WATCH FOR OUR NEXT DESSERTs & SNACKs OFFERING--IN august

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