A couple of weeks ago I led a group of friends in a group contemplation on fruit. (I love the French phrase that my friend, Marie came up with to describe the event: expérimenter ensemble comment une Nature Morte peut engendrer la vie.) There was a pile of fruit on the table. I instructed them to start by writing down initial and obvious things that they observed about the fruit.
Here are some of mine:
- there is a variety of colors and shapes and sizes and tastes
- they are similar in that they have skin and seeds and some part that is edible
- they are all capable of reproducing
- some are pretty and some are not, even prickly
Around this point your brain says to you, “ok, that was fun, let’s do something else now” or “that was beginning to feel like work, can we start eating this fruit instead of just ‘meditating’ on it?” But if you push on and ignore these you will begin to have some other thoughts that begin to go deeper into the life of this fruit:
- Some of it has been bruised and damaged
- Some of it is suffering from disease or other external problems
- All of it has been cared for, or it wouldn’t have made it this far
- Some of the fruit lives alone, others grow together in family
- It will all die very soon
Then later, maybe hours or days later, you may stumble upon thoughts that are even more profound, that could take shape as a story or a saying or a prayer or a parable:
- fruit seems to exist for others: it gives itself away. It seems to constantly shout out “look at me! enjoy my rich color, put me in the center of the table!” or “taste me! allow me to fill your mouth with amazing sensations” or even “remember me! when I fall to the ground and die, I’ll bring to life many more just like me”
- this extravagant variety of fruit that we enjoy and take for granted is a sensual and sense-filled gift from the creator which reflects his colorful, creative and crazy love for us, as if he knew full well how much we would enjoy it.
I would encourage you try this contemplative process with most anything in nature. (my favorite is trees) It DOES take some time, some thought, some paper and ink….but it is worth it. I actually find it very counter-cultural….it seems to flow against the fast-paced, instantaneous, multi-tasking modernity in which we live….to sit and watch something for an hour and wait for thoughts to arise about it. Allow yourself to be surprised by it!