Friday, April 9, 2010

Stone Soup...Or a Lesson in Trusting the Process

The invitation said, "Come to my house on Saturday at 2:00. Bring a raw food item. Don't talk to any of the other class members about the food you're bringing." She wouldn't answer any questions about what sort of food or how much to bring. This was actually an assignment for one of my classes at the Center For the Study of Human Systems, to take part in our classmate's Culminating Project, a requirement for her Associate Certificate.

We gathered in her living room at the designated time. I seem to remember bringing a bag of green peppers. "Now", she said, "Let's go around the room and each person say what they've brought." Bananas, onions, chicken, green pepper, potatoes, chocolate chips, carrots, ginger, lettuce, corn, marshmallows, green beans, mushrooms, cheese. "I wanted in my project to create a lesson in trusting the process. It's been a big lesson for me already because I've had no idea whether this would work. But here you all are and you've all brought food. Now you're going to make dinner. So figure out what you can make with what you've brought. There are staples like flour, sugar, rice, as well as an assortment of condiments in the kitchen that you can help yourself to. Drinks are on the kitchen table."

None of us had known what to expect when we selected a food to bring. It took a minute to grok what this was about. Then we rather quickly formed in small groups with others whose ingredient went together to form a dish. In my group were chicken, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, ginger. We decided to make an Asian chicken stir-fry, or did we bake it. We concocted some sort of marinade from soy sauce, white wine from the drinks table, ginger and whatever else we located from the condiment shelf that made it taste good.

There was no overall coordination by anyone and I wasn't paying too much attention to the other groups that formed. Don't recall that anyone was. We just focused on cooking our contribution towards dinner. Early in our preparations a couple of requests came in from one or two of the other small groups for part of an onion or two carrots. We coordinated use of the stove, oven, and cooking implements among the groups with little effort. It all flowed. None of us had any idea whether our dishes would compliment each other, we weren't really sure what anyone else was making. We had fun, there was a lot of laughter.

I remember it was a warm, sunny June afternoon. There was a very pleasant patio and back garden off the kitchen with a big hammock strung between two trees. During a break from cooking I rocked in the hammock with a glass of wine and chatted with one of my colleagues.

Finally everyone was ready and we spread the dishes out on the patio table. There was my group's Ginger chicken with vegetables, a big mixed salad of lettuce and steamed vegetables, stuffed baked potatoes with onions and melted cheese, corn on the cob roasted on the grill. And for dessert, bananas baked with melted marshmallows and chocolate chips. We'd had just the right amount of each food to prepare the meal for all of us. A fabulous meal from start to finish. A feast!

I've always been grateful to my colleague for creating this experience. The richness of learning from that afternoon stays with me. When we trust the process, everything we need comes together. We have the creativity to provide for ourselves when we all participate. Everyone has something valuable to contribute. Magic happens when we let go of knowing and trying to control what the end result should be. Trust, what it feel like and how it changes everything. I'm certain other aspects of learning from this experience will reemerge in my conscious awareness after I post this. You could always try this with some friends and experience it yourself, then harvest your own wisdom from the experience. I can just about promise that, at a minimum, you'll have a great dinner. Then again we are just now entering the time when this is the way we'll be doing everything.

Enjoy each moment of your life!