I have a dear friend who refers to the men in her life as various root vegetables. Her ex is “The Turnip.” Someone she cares deeply for is “The Onion.” When she starts referring to someone as “The Carrot,” I will really start to wonder about her choices in life.

But seriously, the moniker that strikes a chord with me is “The Onion.” When speaking with Mr. Onion, my friend will mention something he has said that is confusing to me. When I question her about it, she will simply say, “peeling back another layer.”

Another layer.

Just how many layers does an onion have? Many layers comprise an onion, and each one, obviously, has a purpose. The outer, dry layer is called the tunic. Under the tunic lies the first layer of “onion cells,” a thin, single-cell-width membrane which lies between each layer of the fleshy, “onion leaves” (the part we eat) to protect each layer from outside influences. This order continues all the way to the very heart of the onion: the bulb, which is where the onion germinates and grows.

It got me thinking. Thinking about how very much like onions we humans are. We were created from the dust of the earth (grown in soil), we were yanked out of those cozy environs into the harsh reality of life, in the winter our outer layer becomes dry, crackly and paper-thin, and finally, when anyone cuts us, we make them cry.

An onion is so much more than a mere circle, which has no beginning and no ending. It is vastly complex. Imagine that thin, slimy thing that you peel off before cutting the onion. It’s there to stand as a barrier between layers.

Everyone talks about “building walls” to protect themselves from being hurt, or throwing up barriers to keep people “out.” It usually is mentioned in a negative tone.

I’m beginning to wonder if that’s such a bad thing. I mean, just look at the onion. God created this amazing vegetable as part of his vast menu for humanity. It has a purpose and function. It provides a sort of sustenance and flavor for dishes.

And it makes us cry.

If God created a non-sentient vegetable to have so many protective layers, I wonder if he meant for humans to follow a similar example. Maybe I’m reading too much into the commonalities of humans and onions. But I don’t think so.

Each onion layer stacks on top of another to protect the core…the very nerve center of the onion’s existence…the thing that makes it grow.

Maybe if humans had a few more layers protecting their core, there might be fewer damaged souls in the world. And a lot more healthy, beautiful growth.

Or maybe I just need some vegetable soup.

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