My Solstice Lesson or Why Ella Should Have Taken the Cake

One thing I’ve learned is that you never know where the lesson will come from. My daughter and I went to a gathering last night for a Solstice ritual and to celebrate the birthday of a friend. It was a lovely little gathering with a beautiful, simple ritual followed by a delicious potluck.

The ritual was short and sweet with no immediately apparent insights or awakenings. But whether or not there was an immediate shift in awareness, I’ve discovered that the seeds are planted when you participate in ritual and you never know when they will blossom!

But the evening was not without a more immediate lesson. And it was all about the birthday cake. Yes, the birthday cake.

chocolate-cakeThis morning I woke up thinking about last night’s cake. Now it’s as if I usually wake up in the mornings thinking about cake. And, really, I wasn’t thinking about the cake, per se. No, seriously! I was thinking about my interaction with my daughter, Ella, regarding the cake.

First let me describe the cake. It was dark chocolate cake, moist and full of rich chocolatey flavor with a layer of raspberry preserves and frosted with a chocolate ganache. Definitely yummy!

But when I saw the size of the pieces my friend Tim was cutting – can you say Rambo Sized? – I asked for him to cut a special smaller piece and then cut that piece into a small piece for Ella and a not-quite-so-small piece for me.

There were several reasons I wanted Ella to have a small slice: It was late, almost 8:30 by the time we had cake – can you say “Sugar High?” and she’s also a little sensitive to wheat and dairy. And this cake was loaded with both.

So Tim handed down our small little slivers of cake and we were happy. Well, Ella was happy. When I received my little sliver, I was a bit disappointed. Apparently I had not clearly communicated my request to Tim. I wanted Ella to have a tiny slice and I wanted to have a medium sized slice. But we both got tiny slices.

I could feel myself doing one of those cartoon double takes… looking at my little slice, looking at Neil’s big slice, looking at my little slice, looking at Chris’s big slice, looking at… well you get the idea.

I was so focused on the quantity of cake I had – or didn’t have – that I hardly even noticed how good it was. And when I wasn’t lamenting the size of my slice I was engaged in conversation, further distracting me from the full pleasure that the cake could have provided.

After I finished my piece, which didn’t take long since it was so tiny, I continued talking while still hearing a little voice inside of me saying that I had not gotten enough cake. (Notice that the voice was not telling me that I had not EATEN enough cake but that I had not RECEIEVED enough cake. Big difference!)

I found myself watching Tim as he continued cutting the cake, wondering if there was going to be any left for me to have a second small slice. It was going to be a close call. But before he reached the end, Jaci sat down across from me and, seeing the size of the slice on her plate asked for a much smaller one. So I jumped in and said that she could just give me what she didn’t want of hers.

Perfect! In fact, more than perfect: She gave me more than I wanted!

Meanwhile, as all of this internal drama was playing out, Ella was totally immersed in a full body experience of enjoying the cake. She was carefully deconstructing it as she ate: first scraping off the frosting and savoring that, then cutting off small pieces of the cake, lighting up with surprise and joy when she got a taste of the raspberry filling which she couldn’t see because it blended in with the color of the cake.

She was just finishing her slice when I received the “bonus” slice from Jaci. And of course, she wanted a bit more also. I let her have one more bite but turned down her request for a second “last last last last bite” at which point she shifted her attention to licking the plate clean – literally!

So here I was chowing down on a second piece of cake, focused more on the quantity than the quality, missing out on the fullness of the experience while Ella was totally immersed in the experience. For her, nothing else existed outside of her relationship to that tiny slice of cake. She was a study in the Power of Now.

And what a beautiful lesson!

How often do I distract myself from the present moment because I am focused on what I don’t have? How often do I miss out on the fullness of an experience because I am comparing what I do have to what someone else has? How often does my mind lead me into the what ifs of the future or the what could have beens of the past leaving no space for the what is of the present?

Far too often.

So, no matter what else blossoms from last night’s ritual, if I can take this reminder of presence and full participation with me as we move back into the light, I will be very happy!

Epilogue:

About halfway through my “bonus” piece of cake – around the time that I noticed Ella licking her plate! – I broke out of the trance I was in and realized I did not need to eat it all. So I took one more bite, with a much higher level of presence, and then put down my fork.

Soon after that, Jane sat down next to me interested in a small piece of cake. I offered her the rest of the cake I had been eating which she said was exactly how much she wanted!