Sunday, December 20, 2015

On Transubstantiation in the classroom

From years past. the real Christmas miracle....

"Flowers, leaves, fruit, are the 
air-woven children of light."
Jacob Moleschott, 19th c. physiologist

The sun stands still for an instant just a few days from now, and will start its trip back north. We are all children of the light.

I ate a basil leaf in class today, grown from a flower fertilized by bee that stole a sip of nectar back in August. A child in class separated the seed from the dried flower head in October, and planted it.

The past two months the basil germinated, grew a pair of leaves, then another, then yet another, weaving together the carbon dioxide molecules floating around the room, pieces of this child's breakfast or that child's heart.

Transubstantiation, the miraculous changing of the Host into the flesh of God, has all the fancy accouterments one would expect for these kinds of things, but after all the noise, the Host still tastes like, well, a wafer.

Through several Sundays of Masses, the tiny basil seed grew, taking in the carbon dioxide of the breath of my lambs in class, an odorless gas, and weaved it with broken water molecules, creating the stuff of life, a basil plant, and today we took Communion.

No one believes this, of course, because it is simply too much to believe--but it's true and requires not a lick of faith.

The plants in our room are, literally, from the breath of those who live here--and at least a few of the carbon dioxide molecules captured were released when someone's brain in class tried to grasp the concept of photosynthesis.

And it was good.

And you're allowed to gnaw on basil....


Barbara said...

And I can just imagine the smell of fresh basil in the classroom. SOLSTICE JOY!!!

doyle said...

Dear Barbara,

Alas, other smells often dominate in a science classroom, but one of my joys in class is watching children smell the basil seedpods as they separate the dead flowers from the living tiny black seeds inside.

Solstice Joy back at you!

CB said...

Zhuangzi, 4th-3rd c. bce:

Zhuangzi, Master Chariot and Master Arrive
Master Sacrifice, Master Chariot, Master Plow, and Master Arrive all four spoke
together, saying, “Who can take nothing as the head, life as the spine, and death as the tail?

Who knows death, life, existence, and annihilation as all the same thing? I’ll be that person’s friend.” All four looked at each other and smiled. There was no resistance in their hearts, and so they became friends.

Suddenly, Master Chariot got sick. Master Sacrifice went to ask after him. “How
extraordinary of the maker of things to knot me up like this. My back is hunched out. My
organs are all out of order. My chin is hidden in my navel. My shoulders are peaked. And my neck bones point to Heaven.” But though his yin and yang qi [life force] were fouled, in his mind there was nothing the matter. He hobbled over to look at his reflection in the well.

“Sheesh! The maker of things really is knotting me up.”

Master Sacrifice said, “Do you dislike it?”

Master Chariot said, “Not at all. What is there to dislike? If, in time, he turns my left arm into rooster, I’ll use it to crow the day. If he turns my right arm into a bow, I’ll shoot down a dove for roasting. If he turns my buttocks into wheels and my spirit into a horse, I’ll climb aboard. What better carriage? You get something when it’s time. You lose it when it’s passed. If you are content with the time and abide by the passing, there’s no room for sorrow or joy. This is what the ancients called 'loosing the bonds.’ If you don’t loose yourself, things will bind you. Nothing has ever beaten Heaven. What is there to dislike?”

Suddenly Master Arrive got sick. Gasping, he was on the point of death. His wife and
children circled around him weeping. Master Plow came to ask after him and said to them,
“Stop! Get back! Don’t be afraid of the change.” Leaning on the door frame he said, “How
extraordinary, the one who makes these changes! What will he do with you next? Where will he send you? Will he make you a rat’s liver? Will he make you a bug’s arm?”

Master Arrive said, “A child goes wherever its parents say—east, west, north, or south.
How much more are yin and yang to a person than parents! If they bring me to the point of death and I refuse to obey, I would only be being stubborn. What fault is it of theirs? The Big Lump [the Dao] burdens me with a form, labors me with life, eases me with old age, and rests me with death. So if I like my life, for the same reason I must also like my death.