A Slice of King’s Cake for the Slicers
So, I am a day late but spreading the spirit of Mardi Gras, and reconciling it with Ash Wednesday We went to the bakery yesterday and got a King’s cake which I brought to school today to share with fellow Slicers. A slice of King’s Cake was crying out for the opportunity to become a Slice of Life, and so it has
Arriving at school early today I go to my classroom and gently take my King’s cake, beautifully decorated in green, gold and purple, out of the box. I place it on a March platter laced with shamrocks. It looks so inviting staring back at me from its perch on my classroom table. Time to hit the hall before school starts and spread the opportunity to be “the one” among my slicing colleagues. This seemed like a perfect treat to share with other teachers at my school whom I knew were part of the writing challenge.
Here she comes down the hall, still wearing her warm knit winter hat and her coat. Before she can even open her door and empty her hands (what teacher doesn’t arrive carrying too much and not noticing because this is our lives). Before she can even absorb what I am doing I start, “You are the first slicer I have encountered today so it is your fate to be the first one to cut into this King’s cake.” “Oh thanks, what’s that?” “Well, you have to be careful. This cake has a baby in it. If the baby comes out in your piece, you will have much luck and many blessings this year.” “Is there some special way to do this, do you know where it is?” “No, it is completely random. That is what makes it an instrument of fate.” Just cut into the cake wherever you like and take a small piece, well I shouldn’t have said small, just help yourself.”
I think about the last time I brought one of these to school. For Epiphany, I brought my class cake. I told students that nobody could take a bite until everyone had cake and the baby had been found. I wanted to be sure nobody choked. Much to my surprise, the very first student to cut a piece with my plastic knife, cut right into the baby. And, I might add she is having a very good year! It is rare for the baby to be found on the first cut. This is a Mardi Gras tradition in New Orleans, and of course my student who found the baby is from Brazil. Maybe some of the Mardi Gras karma wore off on her. In France, a bean is sometimes placed in the cake instead of a baby, but the idea is the same!
Leah looked studiously at the cake and began to turn it around a few times until she focused on the exact piece she wanted to cut. Then she cut so small a piece, she couldn’t possibly get the baby I said, “Oh no, take more Leah, that’s too small.” And as Leah finished cutting into the cake, I started to say “You know the last time I did this the very..” “Look the baby!” It happened again.
There she stood, grinning broadly and holding up her paper plate with the baby photobombing out of the cake. We both broke into laughter and I felt a deep sense of confirmation that this is the way it was meant to be. I was a tool in the hands of a universe that wanted to speak directly to Leah and embrace her with all the radiant light it had stored up to shine in her direction.
As I was about to leave her room, another slicer came in. “Would you like some cake? “ It was obvious form both our giggles and the plastic baby that Leah had already cracked the secret code of this cake. “I am going to take off now and offer some of this to the other slicers, since that was my original plan. “Well, don’t tell them the baby has already been found.” More laughter. I hadn’t thought to do that. “Well the cake is all about hope, right?, So, you can’t take that away from people.” No, I guess you can’t. So I marched off and offered everyone cake. I explained what the king’s cake was all about, but made no mention of whether or not the baby had been found Well, in my defense I didn’t say that it was still in the cake, I just didn’t say all that I knew. I wasn’t going to be the omniscient narrator of this story. Only one person asked, and I had to tell her the truth. At least she enjoyed the cake,
Later in the day, I decided to make my own photobomb appearance in Leah’s class. I told the students about her good fortune and asked them to weigh in on this event with their own comments about predicting how her year would be special and how luck played into this. I will leave more on that to Leah to share.
I thought it would be especially fun that both of us are writing this story. So you will hear this from two different perspectives, that of the cake peddler, and Leah, destiny’s child. All in all, it was a joyful experience and that is what Mardi Gras, alias Fat Tuesday, is all about.
I also got ashes this morning before coming to school and the whole concept of ashes to ashes and dust to dust is such a great equalizer. We realize our mortality and our common thread of humanity with everyone around us as we all float through this life, lost in the stars.
This has been a day to appreciate life!