Tuesday, August 27, 2013


For some reason, I was never hungry for lunch yesterday. (This. Never. Happens.) I went out to Starbucks with a coworker and picked up an iced green tea; I threw back some cinnamon almonds because I figured I should eat something. And, predictably, by the time I got home I was ready to start gnawing on my purse strap. It's not often, I suppose, that I am actively hungry.

But that got me thinking this morning about hunger. Because I don't have much experience with real hunger--participating in a 30 Hour Famine with my teens a few years ago is the closest I've been--I find that I hunger for other things...

I am hungry for knowledge. If it had been financially possible to just stay in college for another 5 or 10 years, I probably would have. I love learning knew things (the things that interest me, anyway) and puzzling them out. I love reading and organizing my notes and formulating thoughts into pages of writing. I love knowing things--my best friend accurately calls me an intellectual snob. I find myself getting a little antsy to soak up new facts, new ideas, new learning.

I am hungry for experience. I'm devouring a book for Speakeasy right now that covers a man's travels around the continent as he works toward and develops a sustenance farm in partnership with his church, discovering permaculture and composting, monastic life and Central American social politics. I open Google Maps to look up something for my real life, but find myself dragging and zooming to corners of the world--Baffin Island, Indonesia, the Azores--that I have no foreseeable plans to get to.

I am hungry for stillness. This seems silly, coming from a woman who lives alone--why is this not everyday?--but I hunger for a different breed of silence: a purposeful, chosen, dedicated stillness. The kind of stillness that finds you as you sit on the porch in the early morning cool with hot coffee resting in hand, the vastness of an unlived day hanging invitingly in front of you like steam from the mug.

I am hungry for community. I spent Sunday morning with some church friends giving out free lunch at Willard Beach, and I found myself amazed at how quickly we fell into community with passersby. Much to my surprise, there was no suspicion, no circumspection. There were single moms and elderly men and teenagers, all of them talking and laughing in the speckled shade of a perfect day, content--eager!--to share time with strangers. I am hungry for this: for family to be found in neighbors and acquaintances, for us to remove ourselves from relational bomb shelters and share life.

And why am I hungry? Because I settle for slacking off. I settle for rewatching and rehashing and keeping to myself. I settle for sleeping in and wasting time on things that do not--cannot--matter. Instead of living with eagerness and energy and expectation, I curl into the corner and hold my breath and wait.

When I think back to the 30 Hour Famine, I don't remember the hunger of those two days, so much; but I remember the meal we shared at the end: a bite of bread and juice for Communion, and then simple beans and grains--food so much of the world would be tearfully grateful for. I remember laughing with my kids as we shamelessly scraped our bowls clean with our fingers.

There will be a day when all of this is memory, and I don't want to remember the hunger.

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