One day, I offered a number of children a basket filled with tangerines. The basket was passed around, and each child took one tangerine and put it in his or her palm. We each looked at our tangerine, and the children were invited to meditate on its origins. They saw not only the tangerine, but also its mother, the tangerine tree. With some guidance, they began to visualize the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Then they saw petals falling down and tiny green fruit appear. The sunshine and the rain continued, and the tiny tangerine grew. Now someone has picked it, and the tangerine is here. After seeing this, each child was invited to peel the tangerine slowly, noticing the mist and the fragrance of the tangerine, and then bring it up to his or her mouth and have a mindful bite, in full awareness of the texture and taste of the fruit and the juice coming out. We ate slowly like that.
Each time you look at a tangerine, you can see deeply into it. You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, its wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy.
— Thich Nhat Hanh (From Peace is every step)
What would happen if we slooooowed down? What if we saw this world, and every component of it, as the miracle it all is? After reading this, I couldn’t help but revel in the simplistic beauty of the story.
And I dissected it a bit more.
Thich Nat Hanh is a very wise and spiritual man. And he is known for sharing his wisdom with the world. And his wisdom is praised worldwide, in all different religions groups (yes, even Christianity). He is an important man, and I’m sure he is surrounded by other very important people. And in this lesson of wisdom, who are his pupils?
I found it commendable that Thich Nat Hanh was sitting there with a bunch of children, teaching them something so profound as the miracle of a tangerine. But it goes even deeper than that. Those children represent some of the best pupils in the world, as only a child could truly comprehend the wonderment in that tangerine, understanding the miracle. For only children naturally study all things, slowing down to see the bug make it’s way through the lawn, what happens when you throw a paper boat in a stream, how detailed an ant really is. I imagine those children understanding Thich Nat Hanh much better than any adult would in that same conversation, for they “play” that game every day. The world is new and exciting and full of life. And they see it for such, a place to explore and learn about.
How wonderful would it be if we could look at this world like a child, to see the miracle of it, I mean TRULY see it? There is so much we take for granted. There is so much that we hold in place to keep us separate from the world. The thing is, we are all connected.
Take a breath. Now exhale. That breath you just took? It’s now traveling into the atmosphere. It is going into other people around you as they inhale. And then they are breathing it out. And so on. That single breath of yours is being broken into a million pieces, mixing up with other people’s breath, and going in and out of all humans.
We are all connected.
Smile at someone. What does their face do? They can’t help but smile back. And even if they don’t, the connection is still there. They see you, they think about you. They are connected to you in that moment.
Run some water in the sink. Put your hand in it. Water does not create itself, it has been around for millions of years, since the beginning of this world. The water you are touching has been touched by someone else, has run through the fingers of another in another time. By famous, or not famous. By ordinary and extraordinary. By holy and evil. By our forefathers and our distant ancestors.
We are all connected.
And then there’s the miracle of life. Thich Nat Hanh is quoted as saying, “People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes.
All is a miracle.”
Take the tangerine. It was once a seed, taken from a mature tangerine. It was planted in the ground, watered, and cared for. And somewhere in that small seed, God put the ability to change, to grow and become something. And it did. It became a tree. And of that tree, God put the ability to change and grow more, to bear flowers and fruit. All from that tiny seed. And when we open that fruit, it would be mindful of us to see what makes up that fruit. The grocer who placed it on the shelf. The truck driver who shipped it to our area. The farmer who cared for it and aided its growth. The tree that held it as it grew. The flower it was before it changed. The bee that gathered the pollen. The sun, the rain, the air… The seed. And when we open it, we have the opportunity to become mindful of even more as the whole tangerine becomes apparent.
But we tend to just eat it. We may notice the fragrance, the spray of mist as we open it, the taste on our tongue. But then we eat it and forget about it. We miss the miracle in the fruit.
When I hear the word “miracle”, so many things come to mind. Turning water into wine. Parting the red sea. Things so huge and so wondrous that they are hard to comprehend. And I go about looking for miracles. “God, if this is the way I’m supposed to go, show me a sign.” “God, if you could just change this, take it away, save me!” “If you’re really there, prove it.”
And all the while, the miracles are right there in front of me. All I’m asking for, and they are there. And they aren’t there just for me, or to prove God’s existence or his care, or to give glory to God for his creation of a life giving planet. It’s all here for US. For all mankind. To use. To care for. To notice the miracle of. To see the fruit for the seed. And whether we praised God or not, whether we noticed the miracle or not, it would still be there just the same. Life. Growth. Suffering.
I am connected to you in this moment. As you read the words on this page, we share a connection. And that, that is a miracle.