Friday, April 1, 2011

A Call to Mindfulness: Harrira

During the past week, in an effort to combat the silence that creeps in around the edges of our house here during the weekdays, I've been reading Mary Oliver's poetry to N. while I'm feeding her.  (I had initially tried reading The Omnivore's Dilemma, because I've wanted to finish it for quite some time now, but decided it simply didn't lend itself well to being spoken, not to mention I was too impatient to read it aloud; my speaking voice was not moving anywhere near as fast as my reading eyes wanted to.)  Somehow, I found myself looking for one of Oliver's poems online, and came across this site.  He's a kindergarten teacher by day, but also a meditation practitioner, and talks about how both teaching and meditation are part of the same mindfulness work.

And then a friend sent me this site, which is an attempt to get a billion people breathing synchronously by November 11, 2012. 

Both things got me thinking about my intentions to be more mindful--not simply to be in the present, but to be present in that present.  (Boy, do I miss my yoga class.)  I've been meaning to pick up one of Thich Nhat Hanh's books (any recommendations for a good one to start?), but just never seem to get around to doing so.  This might be a good time, though; though I consider myself UU, between the observance of Lent and the coming of the Passover holidays, there are a lot of people around the world right now trying to be more mindful.  (I love the Passover Seder, for reasons that will be obvious if you read this blog enough--mindfulness through a meal is my kind of meditation.)  I suspect that a practice of mindfulness would help me to face the future better, as much as it helps to focus on the present.  Because when you don't want to simply "hav[e] visited the world," you both appreciate what is amazing about the everyday, and make sure that you will do so tomorrow, too. 

from Mary Oliver's poem "When Death Comes":

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Esperanza commented recently about how my posts make her think about what she's eating ... maybe my blog does have a focus that I hadn't realized until now.  I made a Moroccan Bean Soup before here, but I'm posting another today which I adapted from the Monastery Soups cookbook.  This one is the original from ancient Morocco, where it is traditionally served during the 30-day Ramadan fast (another tradition of mindfulness) just before sunset, when the daily fast is broken once to strengthen the faster for the next day's fast. Eat slowly, savor the spices, and be present, even if it presence means looking outside at the snow on the first day of April.

Harrira (Moroccan Bean Soup)

1/2 c. chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/2 c. black beans, soaked overnight1/2 c. red kidney beans, soaked overnight
1/2 c. white navy beans, soaked overnight
1/2 c. lima beans
1/2 c. lentils
1/2 c. split peas, yellow if possible
12 c. water (you'll definitely need more as it's cooking, though)
2 large onions, chopped
1 16-oz can fire diced roasted tomatoes
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. turmeric
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. lemon juice
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
8 leaves mint, chopped
salt to taste
1  pinch cayenne
1 pinch paprika

Place all beans in a large pot, add the water, and bring it to a boil. simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Add the onions, tomatoes with their juice, ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, and lemon juice. Stir well, cover the pot, and bring the soup to a second boil. Reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer the soup for another hour.

Add the salt and more water if necessary.  Add the cilantro and mint, cayenne pepper and paprika. Stir well and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot.
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  1. YUM... your recipe looks fantastic :)) xoxo

  2. I would recommend Peace Is Every Step. That is a great one to start. Sorry I can't say more now, it's way past my bed time.

  3. Mmmmm. I've just added dried black, kidney, and garbanzo beans to my grocery list for next week, thank you very much. :)

    And, seriously? The Mary Oliver poem? Kinda grabbed me by the throat. So, so relevant to what's been simmering in my brain.


    Have a great weekend, Justine. :)

  4. I loved reading the Mary Oliver poem excerpt. What amazing words to carry in my heart. Thanks for brightening my day!

  5. Thanks for posting that excerpt. What a beautiful poem! I have to admit that I'm not much of a poetry-lover. I love to read, but maybe I'm not *patient* enough to read books of poetry. That poem though? I could read THAT poem.


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