Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hunger: A Benediction

As a mother of two little ones, I have a lot to say about hunger.

About how hunger can be a crisis, if we are delayed somewhere and the little one is suddenly hungry and I don't have something to give him.

About how hunger is a gift, because it allows my children to sit down at mealtimes and diligently eat the food that I worked so hard to prepare for them.

About how hunger can seem to be a curse, because no matter how many meals I prepare, serve, and clean up afterwards, there is still another meal coming, and another, and other. 

Why can't we survive on one meal a day?  Or one meal a week?  Why this constant emptying and filling?  It is exhausting.  It is annoying.  And it is unrelenting. 

Before I was a mother, if I didn't feel like cooking, I didn't really have to.  I did have other options.  Less nourishing options, but I was okay with those consequences.  I could cut corners, I could skip a meal, I could eat a strange snack.  But now that I am a mother, cooking, which was somewhat recreational before, became a real job:  people needed to eat.  People needed to eat real food.  I needed to cook.  And these little people get hungry (at least) three times a day! 

So, every day, I have been practicing faithfulness to my family by preparing these meals.  Three times a day, I work in the kitchen, chopping, frying, mixing, spreading.  Three times a day, I sit down with my children.  Three times a day, I wipe mouths, spills, counters, crumbs. 

"Repetition is reality," says Soren Kierkegarrd.  "And it is the seriousness of life . . . repetition is the daily bread which satisfies with benediction."

And as I have practiced this discipline over and over, faithfully though not always gratefully, it has, like all disciplines, worked on me.

The prick of hunger reminds me that I am flesh, that I am not divine.  I am limited.  I am finite.  I cannot expand past my human frame.  I must stop.  I must prepare food.  I must eat it.  And the more comfortable I grow in admitting this, the more comfortable I grow in admitting all of my weaknesses. 

Because I am a hungry person, and because that emptiness needs to be filled every day - I cannot fill myself for a week at a time.  This is humbling. I would prefer to pray for and receive a week's worth of nourishment and be done with it.  What I really want is to get on with what is "really important." But our body's daily hunger is telling us the truth, not what we want to be the truth, but the actual reality of our existence - that we need regular, daily nourishment.  

Daily hunger leads to daily bread.

Give us this day our daily bread.  Jesus taught his followers to pray. 

Our hunger connect us to God.   It remind us of our weakness and our inability to self-sustain, that our resources continually run dry, that the only way to be filled is to search outside ourselves, to seek out that which can fill us up again.

Every day, I have to pray that God will furnish the bread to fill my hunger, that where I am finite, He will be infinite, that where I am weak, He will be strong.  I do not need Him to just fill in my gaps here and there.  I am a gap.  I am a human who gets hungry every day.  I need Him every day to enter in, fill, feed, nourish. 

The good news, the news that makes my heart sing, is that God is a God who feeds.  From the mysterious manna in the desert, to the bread and meat brought to a prophet in the claw of a raven, to the oil and flour jugs that would not run out, to the land flowing with milk and honey, to the water turned to wine, to the multiplying of the loaves and fishes, our God is a God who feeds.  He is the God of the feast, the God of the banquet table, and He invites all who are hungry to His table.  The only real condition is that we come hungry. 

For more on this topic, I highly recommend the little book "The Quotidian Mysteries" by Kathleen Norris. 

Shared at Real Food Wednesday , Thank Your Body Thursday , Simple Lives Thursday .Tasty Traditions, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday .


  1. This is beautiful, just beautiful!

  2. Such truth! Thank you so much...

  3. I LOVE this post! You seem to be a writer at heart, though obviously also a great cook! I am so looking forward to more of your recipes, as I tire of "American food" after a while and am always looking for new cultures to explore through food...

    1. This touched my heart. Thank you. Since a little girl, I have had writing inside of me, but I have not always let it out. Thank you for encouraging me, for speaking a truth that I hope, but do not always see.

  4. So very lovely. I'm breathing it in!

  5. Let me echo that oh, my- YES! You are indeed a writer! This writing of yours made my day. You have eloquently said what has been on my heart but I have been unable to put into words. Love it. :) A hearty thank you.


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