by Michael Starks
(Fort Worth, Texas)
Category: Solar oven/cooker unique applications/uses.
Title: Practical Spirituality Through Solar Cooking
It is Sunday morning and the house is quiet. My wife is taking this rare opportunity to sleep in, while our daughter spends some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa. I am awake and practicing my spirituality. That is, to say, I am making breakfast in our solar oven.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "My life is my message" and “Be the change you want to see in the world.” His messages have inspired people in ways that even he may not have anticipated. It is in this spirit that I solar cook our food.
It's easy to list the practical and tangible benefits of solar cooking: the food tastes fantastic, it emits no carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it's easy enough that anyone can do it. It would be just as easy to stop there. But that's only half of the story.
When I solar cook, I am putting into practice the ideals and values that I hold dear. I am "walking the walk," as they say. With each step, I realize that this is not a trip to the corner store. It is a journey, and as is true with all journeys, there are hills and plains, storms and calm, fatigue and rejuvenation. If it is a clear, sunny day, the food cooks quickly. If clouds pass by, the food cooks slowly. If the sun is nowhere to be seen, I wait until it is sunny again. It is a slow waltz, natural and in-tempo.
It would be easy to stop here. I could quietly enjoy my meals, secure in the knowledge that I am doing my part. In doing so, I would still not have enjoyed the full benefits and realized the potential of solar cooking. I would not have seen the curiousness in peoples eyes, followed the the look of wonderment, when I explain to someone how the food was cooked. I would not have used this opportunity to share a lesson with my young daughter, a lesson which will shape her perspective on life as she grows, a lesson which will show her that solar cooking is natural and normal, and that fossil fuel-based cooking is an alternative. Had I stopped here, I would not have used my voice to show people, in a very real way, that change is possible.
Sharing food has been a staple of spiritual practice for thousands of years. It builds relationships, strengthens communities and removes barriers. It is a common language to all people. Sharing solar-cooked food and methods offers us a chance to return to those core values that define who we are. It is at the same time a step forward and a return to the beginning.
For me, solar cooking is not about cooking. It is about sharing a part of myself. It is about passing the light of the sun to my family and friends--and as the flame passing from one candle to the next only serves to brighten the light, solar-cooked food is best served shared.
Thank you Michael,
This was very well thought out and written, very thought provoking and introspective.
It made me stop and contemplate more on the: "why I do what I do".
It is good that our reasons for doing what we do can evolve over time into greater and more altruistic motives. That is how I would have to describe my experiences with solar cooking.
Thank you for your unique perspective.
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