Mustard fields forever

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Yesterday I took a walk in the green and mustard fields outside the town of Houdan, 60 km from Paris and 20 km from Dreux. The yellowness of the mustard fields was very attractive and a pure pleasure to the eye. It contrasted with a dramatically cloudy sky that showed some saturated blueness from time to time. It was a windy day and the sound of the wind making its way through the fields reminded me of jazz music when the drummer uses a brush to play a kind of warm polyrhythmic hushed shuffle.

The mustard field had indeed a spiritual effect that also reminded me of a teaching I received when I was a child at school when Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart took a chalk and marked an imperceptible full-stop on the blackboard. All of us in the classroom were silenced and started focusing on that tiny drop she chalked before our eyes. Her explanation had a messianic resonance to it : “With faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move a mountain.”

This sounded so fantastic. The enigmatic full-stop was a mustard seed !! And, of course, though no one believed a word of what we heard — how on earth can a drop of mustard move a mountain when it was barely enough to garnish a bite of your hot dog sandwich, — yet we all tried and concentrated hard in order to make our inner mustard seed grow bigger. We were all so motivated by moving mountains.

Yesterday, forty years later, I took a walk in a field of many a yellow drops of faith, with no mountains around. They had been moved off millions of years ago.

Anyway, a walk in such an environment is quite favourable for meditation. Here is an excerpt to ponder on.

Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.” Excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.

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