Most likely you are eating as you read this blog. Maybe it is only a cup of coffee, maybe a quick breakfast on the run, or a donut at break. Food is a very big part of our lives. Hunger can be a time clock ticking inside, regulating the hours of our days with calculated passion. Or it can be a biologic need, demanding fuel stops on our restless race. Even more, hunger functions as a psychological drive, forcing us to crave chocolate when we lack love, or driving us to drink, drugs and sex.
But deeper than all of these things is our search for meaning beyond the drudgery and repetition of our daily activities. It is the spiritual need each person has to know that she is not alone in this gigantic and sometimes unkind maze of life.
Hunger is what the writer of Ecclesiastes means when he said that God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (3:11). Hunger is the pilgrimage of the soul. In other words, the old adage is true: “You are what you eat.”
So life beckons us to follow the latest fad, to search for the newest fulfillment, to seek the richest treasure. We consume and devour until we are fed up with life, so to speak. And still we want more.
You are hungry and you are what you eat. The cravings of your soul will not be stilled. A meal will reset the alarm of your biological clock. Food will keep your hungry body going. Potato chips and a soda will stop the munchies for a while. But what are you eating for your soul?
The Desert Fathers told of a father and a son who were traveling together. They came to the edge of a forest. Some of the bushes were loaded with berries. They looked so delicious that the son asked if they could stop for a while and pick berries.
The father was anxious to be on his way, but he saw the desire in his son’s eyes and agreed to stay there for a short while. The son was delighted. Together they searched the bushes for the biggest, plumpest, juiciest berries.
Then the father knew it was time to move on. He simply couldn’t delay any longer. “Son,” he said, “we must continue our journey.” But the boy begged and pleaded, till there seemed no reasoning with him. What could the father do?
He told his son, “You may stay and pick berries a while longer, but I will begin slowly to move down the road. Be sure that you are able to find me, though. While you work, call out to me, ‘Father! Father!’ and I will answer you. As long as you hear my voice, you will know where I am. But as soon as you can no longer hear me, know that you are lost, and run with all your strength, calling out my name.”
Augustine reflected on the spiritual character of our race. “Man is one of your creatures, Lord,” he said, “and his instinct is to praise you. The thought of you stirs him so deeply that he cannot be content unless he praises you, because you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you.”