I’m learning to taste hunger.
I’ve always taken food for granted. Not the taste—I’m a certifiable foodie. Just the question of whether I had access to food or not. Living in a land of plenty, I’ve never known true hunger. Oh, I may grumble from time to time, proclaiming, “I’m starving!” but I’ve always had plenty of options to satisfy any rogue hunger pang.
Last year I decided to fast one lunch a week during Lent. I borrowed the idea from Amy Julia Becker who spoke about this practice at my church’s women’s retreat. I had never fasted before and was frankly kind of frightened by the idea of missing even one meal! But I wanted to understand what all the hype was about. Why are Christians and people of many other faith traditions instructed to fast periodically?
My intentions were good as I set out to learn more about fasting in late-February 2020. I lasted about three weeks, and then the world came crashing down, and with it, my Lenten fasting practice. Honestly, with all the stress of those early-pandemic days, I don’t even recall what my experience was like with fasting.
This year as we entered the Lenten season, I felt the nudge to revisit the practice to see what fasting had to teach me.
With each hunger pang I turned my attention to Jesus, which I suppose is reason enough to practice fasting. I know he endured far greater hunger and hardship during his 40 days in the wilderness, yet somehow, I feel a new kinship with him. My sacrifice of one missed meal is nothing compared to his sacrifice for me, but I don’t think the point is to compare myself to Jesus. My small fast allows me to experience on a micro-level what endured in the macro.
Of course, I have experienced a whole new gratitude for food as well. Now, when those first hunger pangs appear, I often wait before satisfying them, turning my gaze to Jesus, and expressing my thanks for the gift of food, and of his life to me.
Ancient words of comfort.
The past few weeks I have returned over and over again to these ancient words from the prophet Isaiah:
“Who got things rolling here? Who did this? Who made it happen? Who always gets things started? I did. GOD. I’m first on the scene. I’m also the last to leave. Don’t panic. I’m with you. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.”
When I live my life imagining that I control so much, the pressure of holding everything together and measuring every moment’s success or failure is exhausting. I need this reminder that God held the desires of my heart in his mind before I even conceived them. He got everything started – my desires, my abilities, my vocational life, my family – all of it, and he’ll be the last to leave. And every day in between, he promises to hold me steady when I rest in his presence.
I need that reminder every day.
Every picture tells a story. Every life tells countless stories.
People have asked me if I always liked to write. The honest answer is, not really. I wasn’t one of those kids who always had my nose in a book. I discovered early that math was more valued in my family than reading and writing, and so I became a banker after college. I spent my days moving numbers around a page, not words.
Words came to me later as a way of expressing what I was observing around me. I wrote my first short essays when I was a student at the Barnes Foundation. After spending hours immersed in one of the most exquisite art collections in the world, what choice did I have but to find a way for my heart to respond. Not being a painter, sculptor, or singer, I turned to story and let the words fly from my soul to my fingers and to the page.
Eventually, story became my way to process what I couldn’t understand about life – all the pain and the unexpected sorrow – as well as those beautiful things I didn’t want to forget. Somehow, the simple act of recording the stories of our lives reveals elements of the sacred we never would have noticed had we not written them down. Writing allows me to discover my place in life and its meaning for me.
Remember who you are.
I’m a slow to wake up kind of a gal. The kind of person who needs a long slow double espresso latte and a comfy sofa in the sunroom to wake up properly.
I’m also one who needs a jolt of Scripture first thing in the morning. To remember. So I can feel in my bones that I am deeply loved and treasured. To know that the God of the universe is for me. That he is with me and won’t ever let me go. That irrespective of what I say or do, he is deeply in love with me and delights in me.
I read these promises to remember who I am and whose I am.
The coffee goes down deep and awakens me. These truths go down deeper still and sustain me.