Christine Schoefer: Vegetable Mandalas

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Looking to be awed by common things? Christine Schoefer suggests you look closely at the vegetables on your kitchen counter.

I asked my friend if she’d made any New Year’s resolutions. Same as last year, she tells me. She wants to start meditating regularly and become a vegetarian. If only vegetables weren’t so labor intensive – prepping them takes hours and who has that kind of time?

I tell her about my kitchen epiphany.

Making borscht soup one day, I noticed undulating white and purple lines inside the red cabbage. Slicing the onion, I saw pale concentric rings. Carrot discs contained orange and gold circles. Beet wedges displayed crimson designs and halved potatoes revealed subtle lacework patterns.

Every ingredient had a hidden mandala. Mandalas are circles containing harmoniously arranged shapes and symbols. They can be elaborate or simple, symmetrical or free-form, colorful or black and white. Each mandala is a small, perfect cosmos for contemplation. Native American dream catchers are mandalas, so are the rose windows in medieval gothic cathedrals and the Zodiac circles of European astrology.

Once I discovered vegetable mandalas, I saw whimsical designs and repeating patterns in every piece of produce. Lemon slices have spokes radiating from a pale hub towards a bright rim. Halved apples reveal starbursts. Pomegranates contain chambers of ruby red jewels. Chopping and slicing, I tell my friend, is its own art show.

And it’s more than that. The perfect symmetry inside an orange calms my mind. Spiraling lines on zucchini slices remind me that beauty exists in humble places. Nature’s infinite compositions reassure me that creativity knows no limitations. Chopping produce can be a kind of meditation.

My friend raises her eyebrows. “Can we multitask meditation?” I shrug. We can think of it as paying attention.

With a Perspective, I’m Christine Schoefer.

Christine Schoefer is a writer and educator.

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