A Bowl of Soup.

Essay by sy_124 November 2005

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It was a simple bowl of soup. Chicken with rice, from a can. But as I sat down to eat my lunch, a sudden thought flashed through my head: What a miracle this bowl of soup is! A savory, golden broth, bright orange carrot coins, plump grains of rice, bits of chicken. Struck deeply by this realization, I simply sat for a minute watching thin wisps of steam rising from the surface.

Just a bowl of soup. I'd never given much thought to the origins of my food. I simply went to the store, threw produce and cans and boxes into my cart, and brought them home. But I've been thinking a lot lately about the interconnectedness of all things, and a great understanding coalesced for me in this blue-and-white bowl. In a flash, I glimpsed the giant web of nature and people that had brought this soup to my table.

First, of course, came the sunlight and water and soil in which farmers grew all the ingredients. Then truckers hauled the harvest to market and later to the processing plant. Workers there made the soup in a detailed process that requires abundant electricity generated by the labor of coal miners and hundreds of utility employees. Workers in another factory made the cans, which were fashioned from ore dug from the earth by more miners even farther away. Then someone else transported the cans of soup to my local store, where another person placed them on the shelf. Bankers were also involved, and secretaries, and the printers who made the labels, and who knows who else?

Plus, there are my clients and the publishers who pay me for the writing I do. Without their belief in me, I could not have purchased this amazing can of soup, nor the cheese and tomato sandwich I ate along with it. The web shimmered in my mind's eye, each connection leading to many more I couldn't even begin to imagine.

Then I remembered recent video images of relief workers standing in the backs of trucks and flinging loaves of bread that are snatched in mid-air by outstretched refugee hands. Their homes and lives demolished, thousands of displaced Kosovars grab for the simple food that would keep them and their children alive.

A simple bowl of soup. I sat in my cozy kitchen on a pleasant, tree-lined street in Kentucky and sadly acknowledged how rarely I notice all the miracles that every day bless my life.