Spirituality on a Stick

September 13, 2007

In 1841, the first State Fair in the United States, preceded Abraham Lincoln, and evolved into a part of Americana. The New York State Fair held in Syracuse, brought together a competitive exhibition of livestock, a display of farm produce, handicrafts, baked goods, jams and jellies and more from citizens across the state. Later, state fairs grew in popularity across the country and soon included amusements and consumable foods. We now recognize an entire genre of junk food called “Fair Food” or more commonly, "something on a stick." Usually equated with convenience and delectable artery-clogging concoctions, the stick itself points the way to our approach to spiritual life.

Common lore tells us there are at least 25 varieties of food-on-a-stick featured at state fairs. These include alligator, deep fried candy bars and the perennial favorite, corn dogs. The decadent edibles delivered on a piece of wood (which may be healthier than the food it impales), food-on-a-stick continues to grow in popularity! Ahhh.. just the way we like it. Easy to eat, cheap, tasty and bad for us. Let’s face it, we’ve moved from savoring a slow, home cooked meal, resulting from hours of thought and preparation, to eating food on a stick, as we walk through life and watch the parade go by. In many ways, we prefer our spiritual truth served to us in the same fashion - convenient, expedient, simple to grasp and with no effort or thought involved.

The next time you go to the State Fair, watch some spiritual principals cooking before your eyes and under your nose as you indulge and bulge with hand held food.

Corn Dogs
I’ll take a corn-dog portion of personal growth, to go, please. After I chomp into the crust of my self doubt, I find the meat of who I am hidden beneath the mealy, coarse exterior. I continue to make my way, bite after bite until I reach the core – the stick. My spiritual stick reinforces me all the time, holding up the important parts of myself, supporting me and providing what I need. Though this spiritual stick seems like the insignificant part of the meal, I quickly find life’s pretty messy without it.

Cotton Candy
That spun sugar, pink and cheery like a baby’s cheeks, tickles your nose when you get close enough to lap it up. The sweetness in our lives shows up as laughter and kindness while ironically wrapped around a fragile core. Just as we find joy in the process of peeling off the colored layers from the paper stick, we reach our happiness when we peel away the layers of our own exteriors a little at a time, savoring each experience. Many of us allow happiness in our lives for a brief, melt-in-your-mouth moment. We tend to tightly grasp that which we believe will bring us peace, only to watch it dissolve. We learn the brace of our strength supports the ecstasy of who we are and unlike the solid pine stick of our spiritual base, our self-esteem, at it’s core, must be carefully handled for it to withstand the swirl of life circumstances which surround it.

Corn on the Cob
Lined neatly in a compact grid of rows and columns, the almost mathematical ear of corn reminds us of the facets of everyday life supported by our spiritual stick. This treat is not cooked around the stick like the corn dog or cotton candy. Without a stick, an ear of corn is just an ear of corn. But when you pound a stick into one end of the corn, it grows into a spiritual field of understanding. Each kernel, unique in shape and symmetry, plump with buttery tenderness, bursts with the flavor of your encapsulated life experiences. Look at each small rectangle and imagine those as milestones of spiritual growth. You can’t live as a complete ear of corn without exactly those experiences in that divine order, to make you whole. And in some respects, you won’t savor the fullness of life unless you allow spiritual truth to enter into your beliefs. The spiritual stick, proverbially pounded into us as repeated lessons in life, nonetheless makes its way into our soul and brings us to a full understanding of our truth. Whether you neatly nibble one row at a time in horizontal fashion, or take huge bites out of your experiences, be sure to consume life as you walk through it.

When we search for the many flavors life offers, we realize the pillar of all the good around us is within our grasp. Whether it’s a pine stick, a paper cone or a tongue-depressor popsicle stick, it’s all right here, in our hands. All the good you could ever imagine, faces you like rows of booths at the fair and all you need do is walk up, pay for your experiences with your trust, and you receive a perfectly sized portion. The trick is to keep moving through the carnival of life and when the old ways no longer serve what you need, dispose of those exhausted thought patterns, and be willing to try a new stick.

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