(Originally posted February 2013)
I wish that you could be in my head today as I read for class…..
There is this thing I do, I cannot help myself.
When I do not do it, it is all I crave. It consumes me in a passionate and unforgiving way and calls to me constantly, much like the call to follow Christ consumed Martin Luther and fed his desperate need to share Christ with the people in a way that was more intimate and on their level.
When I answer to this innate need, I feel at rest, sated for now, and able to function in some manner of peace. You see, I cannot help myself. I will admit it… I feed people.
There is more to feeding someone than buying food and putting it on the table. It is about creation of food that nourishes and comforts. It is about love in every knead and every stir. About compassion in every chop and every flip. It is about community in every table setting where we gather around this food that will fill us, but where our souls are filled by the community simultaneaously.
I could not reach a dear friend as this all came bursting from my head this morning- so I texted- and you know me- short and sweet is not my strong point. But here, in this moment, forced to keep it that way, I came up with an equation that opened my eyes and pierced my heart.
Eucharist=famine relief…. our troops and thier families are starving=suicide.
It is in your face. I can acknowledge that. It is painful and it is blunt to the point of rude. But it is also so true that it makes my body ache in sorrow and awareness.
When I am at Luther Seminary with my cohort for intensives every January and June, I miss my family. I miss my bed and my home and all the things I find common comfort in. So I cook. I cook a lot. But what I found was not just the cooking fed me. It made me miss my family less to cook a big tray of blueberry scones… but it also did something I did not expect in the least.
It thrilled my heart to tears when that tray of scones disappeared in grateful, tired, study worn hands of students running off to class with only coffee to fill them… until they saw the scones. That simple little scone warmed thier chilled fingers as they rushed out into the bitter cold and then filled their stomachs, nourishing them enough to think a little until lunch time.
All the more so, when I spent a day cooking red sauce for a communal spaghetti dinner to welcome the new cohort, I hummed and danced and twirled and cried and prayed. But what THEY did as a community was the amazing part worthy of dancing over. They gathered as one- over 30 people- as ONE community and broke bread and slurped pasta. They left the new cohort with smiles and small tears of joy and welcome. They brought them into a cohort of welcoming arms and fed the hole in them that housed fear, home-sickness, nervousness and the unknown of this new journey they were on.
You see, they created a home for them. A community, a table, a family. But it was done through food as a community that fed both body and spirit. As we fight suicide together, we must remember that there is a hole in the spirit of those struggling with suicide. That hole needs fed and filled with community and love and trust and faith, not shame, silence, or fear. Gordon Lathrop writes in his book, The Pastor,
“Finally, the great table service of Christ to the world is the corss. There, by holy mercy, he is the server and the food, the very fruit from the tree of life for faith to receive and eat and live and also the very famine relief of God served up to all the needy world.” (p65)
Patch Adams wrote in his book House Calls a poem from Pablo Neruda that goes like this:
If I die, survive me with such sheer force
that you waken the furies of the pallid and the cold,
I don’t want your laughter or your steps to waver.
I don’t want my heritage of joy to die.
Don’t call up my person. I am absent.
Live in my absence as if in a house.
Absence is a house so fast
that inside you will pass through its walls
and hang pictures on the air.
Absence is a house so transparent
that I, lifeless, will see you, living,
and if you suffer, my love, I will die again.
Let us not live in a house that is silent from fear of suicide, nor echoing with silence through loss from suicide. Let us FILL the house with community, with love, with compassion and the connection that is what keeps us whole. Lets FEED the famine of humanity- body AND soul.