The Chocolate Chip Cookie

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”

– Barbara Jordan

No one in the world bakes better chocolate chip cookies than my wife, Sheridan.  No one.  I realize this sounds a bit grandiose, but as the crusty Western actor Walter Brennan used to say in his distinctive manner, “No brag, just fact.” Not only does Sheridan prepare them with the skill of a French pastry chef, at the same time, she infuses her bakery creations with her own special ingredient – love. Not only is the taste fabulous, but also I feel better, inside and out, after sampling them. They’re that good.

Just recently, when I was slugging it out in the emergency department, I received an email from Sheridan informing me that she had prepared a batch.  Any difficulties I was having at the time vaporized into the ethers, because no matter how bad the emergency chaos was – and, as might be expected, it was far worse than bad – in a few short hours I would be experiencing the nirvanic ecstasy of biting into one of her delectable cookies.

When I arrived home that evening, I quickly raced over to the plate of cookies waiting for me on the counter top and gobbled one down.  Amazing! The next morning, as I was preparing to go to the gym for a workout, I grabbed two more and hurriedly chewed and swallowed them as I rushed out the door. Incredible!

Later that same day, though, as I thought about it, I realized that while I had enjoyed the cookies immensely, I had to confess that I had been focusing on other matters while eating them.  I was reminded of the words of my spiritual mentor, the Zen Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh, who once said, “Mindful eating means simply eating or drinking while being aware of each bite or sip.”

When I understood I was not attentively savoring these delicious cookies, I decided to give my full awareness to this sacred, gustatory experience.  First, I picked one up, turned it in my hand and gazed at it. The cookie was light-brown and crispy, sprinkled with chocolate chips and loads of pecans. As I took my first bite and slowly chewed, I breathed in and out and began to think deeply about what the cookie truly consisted of.  First of all, the pecans were native to Oklahoma,  arguably the best in the world, and they were carefully cultivated near the small Oklahoma community of Earlsboro, a loving present from my father, who always gifted bags of them to us at Christmas.  The cocoa and vanilla likely originated in rainy, equatorial countries, as they grew well in humid, tropical climates.  The eggs came from cage-free chickens that were organically fed, literally “Happy Eggs” from fowl that roamed the countryside, scratched the ground and ate bugs and worms.  The butter was also organic, free of potentially dangerous chemicals and hormones. Most of the ingredients of Sheridan’s cookies required timely rainwater for their eventual production, and besides that, the sun, along with the fertile earth, were necessary for the healthy growth of the cocoa and pecan trees, vanilla plants, sugar cane and wheat.

So, what does one of Sheridan’s chocolate chip cookies actually contain?  When I take a bite, in addition to the healthy ingredients, I am absorbing the essence of the warm, comforting sun, billowing rain clouds, the nurturing earth, the vigilance and attentiveness of the farmer, the caring of my father, and – of course – the love of my wife. So much more than just a snack. This chocolate chip cookie, like many foods prepared with love and mindfulness, is a gift from God and is as holy and hallowed as a sacramental wafer at the ritual of communion.

I smile in gratitude, as I humbly accept this blessing.

Thank you, Sheridan.

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