- Matthew's recollection of Jesus' words on the mountainside
Most of us - we who are spending time blogging or reading blogs -don't know what hunger is. I mean, we have an assent to its existence. We talk about it when we notice we are becoming grumpy - hangry? right? I talk about it when I get sleepy for no reason: must need some protein. But then within minutes - possibly hours - I eat something. Most of the time, I eat something that I want to eat. If something I want to eat is not in my cupboards, it's at most .6 miles away at the organic food coop or .7 miles away at my favorite local coffee shop.
And it's not just food that lives in this weird artificial way in my life. Coffee. Wine. Fine wine. Entertainment. Jon Stewart. Human connection. Art. Art supplies. Chocolate - even fair trade chocolate. New clothes. Earrings. Where I live: a view of mountains and water. Within some limitations, all these things are essentially at my fingertips.
I don't really get what hunger is. I've battled with disordered eating. So I have deprived myself of food. I have felt when hangry turns into truly unhealthy in mind and body. But, even then, I knew that the second I wanted to break my self-imposed starvation: food - and good food - was at my finger tips or at the corner store.
I don't really get hunger. And, that's why I love Lent. That's why I am ambivalently blissful about giving something up. That's why I especially love to give up alleluia. (if that doesn't make any sense to you, here's a primer on the lenten allaluia cessation tradition)
I know a lot of people have given up giving up things for Lent. I trust your spiritual journey if that's you. But I still think giving things up for Lent is good.
In that space of lack, I've found God.
Not that somehow I'm more spiritual because I didn't indulge in something I wanted. I've found God because there is something inside me that is hangry for a different world. There is something inside me that is fainting from deprivation of a brand of justice that is not available at the corner store - even if it is a local organic coop. There is something in me that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. And when, in Lent, I let myself feel some inkling of what hunger is - for chocolate, caffeine, the Daily Show (I gave that up on Lent! Not this year for sure!), for the word alleluia. - I find myself in touch with those deeper rumblings of a spiritual stomach that is constantly hungering and thirsting for righteousness - that is insatiable for righteousness.
And - I hope - when, in Lent, I let myself feel some inkling of what hunger is, I prepare for a feast. I prepare for the feast provided for us through Jesus on Easter. I prepare for the feast I'm called to help cultivate: the feast of radical welcome at a table that can fit everyone where - a table where we miraculously choose to all sit down, dine, laugh, and love together. A feast where we will - all of us - share fine wines, fair trade chocolate, and a righteousness that finally, at long long last quenches our hangry souls.
And the people say together (but not again until Easter) Alleluia!
And, as Matthew remembered Jesus saying: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied."