Working the Rice Paddies


Mother Earth is luscious and green in the China Mountains with ancient misshapen trees that surround us like a comforting protective presence. The clay roofs peak out between the rice paddies that are terraced on the emerald mountain.  The rice here has to be tossed just right for the seed to sprout. Then protected from birds and animals. To harvest there is constant connection to the earth as their hands and feet work the yield. For the first time I realize, as I eat my second bowl of steaming rice and look out at the rice paddies, the journey from seedling to rice bowl is long and laborious.


I’ve now personally experienced the big difference between Western and Eastern ways of faith. Here Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are the dominant religions. However, I have seen how religion is viewed very differently from the way I was raised in the West.

In the West we are taught that there is a distinct right and wrong. One religion is right so another religion is wrong. For example when one converts to another religion culturally it is taught to disregard the religion one  left. It is now wrong and the new faith is right. One will also worship in a completely new building as well.

In the East if one changes religions they don’t disregard their former one. They keep it and add to it. They say this is right for me and this is also right for me too. Hence why several temples in China are not just Buddhist or Taoist but will be a temple for both. As you grow and change you don’t disregard the previous knowledge you add to it. Right and wrong are such vague terms here where in the West they are highly defined. Right is the goodness you carry in your heart. Wrong is anything that comes between you and that love.

Life’s purpose is to grow and they believe that we have time in abundance to do this- an eternity- to repeat our mistakes (reincarnation). The mistakes only need to be corrected once to learn our lesson and then we will reach enlightenment; our own hearts finding peace.


It is a way of thinking that is truly foreign to me.  Honestly, I haven’t fully grasped it; I don’t know if I ever will because of how differently I was raised to think. But I have adapted two things that spoke to me personally.


#1 They remind me of an ancient duty to think on my ancestors. Learning to love them through their myths and legends, burn incense for them because as long as you are alive their light burns within you.


#2 In the West people believe they must pursue happiness. In the East they believe they are born with happiness and life’s important task is to protect it.


Like I stated in the beginning the journey from seedling to rice bowl is long and laborious. The seed needs to be tossed just right for it to grow then safeguarded until it’s time to harvest.

It is backbreaking work.

It is rewarding work.

It is calming work

It is a life’s work

and in the end I hope we all are safely harvested home to a maker that is nothing more than pure love.


Five Take Flight Faves

  • Nancy Crevier
    Posted at 14:44h, 27 April Reply

    So nice to read!

  • Claraa Bo
    Posted at 14:52h, 27 April Reply

    Oh McKenzie, once more you’ve made me cry .. it is absolutely gorgeous to read ! .. and so true …
    it must be magic to be able to see all those different way of life, of thinking, of living.
    Thank you for those words ❤️
    And you look stunning on the photo, love what you did to your hair

  • Carol Tillotson
    Posted at 01:39h, 28 April Reply

    Love these thoughts!❤️. It makes you realize that how you think and what religion you become is molded by where you are born

  • Laurie Szentirmai
    Posted at 01:40h, 28 April Reply

    I grew up in a home where we never followed a specific religion. Many of my family members are atheist. As a child we were encouraged to go to church and Sunday school when our friends invited us and with family members who did attend church and follow a religion. Hence, I have never “belonged” to a religion but my view on faith grew into exactly what you described. I developed my own beliefs and built on those ideas and concepts as I grew and learned more about other people’s beliefs. Really if you change religion do you leave those old beliefs behind. You might like to think so but they built your foundation in religion and will always be with you. I think I like Eastern concepts. You are born happy as you know nothing else. Anger sadness all build inside of you as you learn these behaviours.

  • Suzanne Penrose Cunningham
    Posted at 01:41h, 28 April Reply

    I look forward to having a fun conversation together about this when is we see one another next.
    May your rice bowl be filled with the sweetness of experience, ever-enlightening your consciousness. Much love

  • Mariam Suliman
    Posted at 01:43h, 28 April Reply

    Wow you’ve given me great insight and from a different perspective!

  • Kristen
    Posted at 10:26h, 28 April Reply

    Thanks for the post! As a strong Christian but also a traveler I can appreciate your perspective. Many times I have spoken those of complex and simple beliefs that tend to focus on life meaning other than happiness .But being raised in the West, its not so much that my faith is a religon that no other truth could be added to my life.. but a relationship with God that furfills meaning. Glad you have had wonderful experiences

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