I LOVE food! I love to cook! I love to eat! I love all kinds of food from Mexican to Chinese to leftovers to Italian! There is virtually no food that I don’t like. I just don’t appreciate it.
I inhale my food. A couple weeks ago I wrote about my estrangement from my body. My belly is a testament to that estrangement. I have a habit of taking large bites, one or two chews and a swallow, eager to shove in the next bite.
Last Christmas my wife gave me a book by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. Great book. Or, at least, great title. I have to confess that I haven’t yet read it. :0(
Last week I alluded to the fact that I am introspective and have meditated for many years. Please don’t be misled to think that I some sort of guru who has complete self-understanding and self-control. The truth is that, for me, self-knowledge is a never-ending quest. I know what I should do, what I need to do — in my head. But when it comes to food, I have been slow to move from my head to my heart. Now that I am retired I am working on changing those bad habits. I know in my head how precious the food is that I ingest. I just need to slow down and appreciate it, one bite at a time.
I have to confess that my experience with the Bible is very similar to my experience with food. I LOVE Genesis and Job. But I have had a bad habit of reading the Bible like I eat my food. I rush though several chapters or an entire book, one or two chews and a swallow. Then it sits like a leaden lump in my stomach and my eagerness for the next bite quickly wanes.
But, thanks to a great group of people, that bad habit is changing. Our Wednesday night Progressive Bible Study has been studying the book of Mark for several months. We take small bites, a verse, or maybe just nibble a few words, roll them around, chew carefully and thoroughly, swallow, then savor the flavor before venturing another bite.
Oh, what a difference it makes! It allows one to appreciate the sweetness, the savory, the saltiness and occasional hint of bitterness that reveals the complexity and depth of meaning. We don’t always agree on what we like or dislike. We wrestle with the words and with each other. But we always come away filled and satisfied with a deeper appreciation for scripture, for each other and for God.
I now need to treat food as I am learning to treat scripture: a sacred, precious gift from God that nourishes and sustains this precious body and soul.
13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.”