For This Type of Food

For This Type of Food April 24, 2024

I need to write.  Writers do that, every day. I’ve been managing as many words as I do steps as of late.  It’s a red letter day when I break six thousand with the walking, and likewise three hundred fifty with the writing. Not sure why putting thoughts down on the page has become harder than exercise.  Blaming illness doesn’t work, because this started before I got sick.  It can’t be because I’m too busy because I’ve always been too busy and I’ve always made time.  Further, when I’ve sat to write, even if I had no thoughts, the thoughts assembled like Avengers, and came one after another, almost faster than I could type. 

Not these days. 

We're given so many decades and so many mysteries because life is full of decades and infinite mystery.

Additionally, I need to pray.  There have been years when I’ve been a prayer warrior, managing the Chaplet, Rosary, and other devotions consistently each day –but these days, it’s a true victory to listen to the mass as I drive to work, and all devotions start with great intentions, and somehow stay mostly there.   It used to be easy. I’d pull into the parking lot and scoot into the Adoration Chapel and feel like I’d been wrapped in a blanket.   Somehow, the space from the car to the chapel door feels like miles, and I pull into the parking lot only to feel like I’m wearing fatigue, like those last few steps will exhaust me, and God will have to make due with my weary self sitting in the driver’s seat, eyes shut and drifting off. 

Could you not watch one hour?  These days, the answer seems to be no.

Everything I do seems to expand to cover all of the hours.  Dishes, teaching, cooking, cleaning, planning lessons, all of the time gets taken.  I was supposed to play the piano piece, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, three times a day, and now, I can’t quite look at those keys because I know, I haven’t done it.  It takes effort, and the part of me that beat Cancer, that always had more energy than I knew what to do with, that wanted to dance until the last song ended and wished the last song wasn’t the last song, all of that part seems, if not asleep, closed off for repairs.   The drive is missing. 

Writing this I thought would help me muster the push to do more –but it has reminded me of how much less I am doing.  That thought brought me to what I’ve observed in students and in life in general. When shopping at Target, the birthday section felt picked over, and uninspired.  Like the effort to celebrate took too much to ask, and that’s what I see missing, both in my own efforts, and in those of communities around me, they’re needing something more, that effort, that energy, that vigor to act and go beyond what is required, beyond 10,000 steps, beyond 500 words, beyond making it to the door of the chapel.  Sherry, what if you played the Moonlight Sonata four times?  
The very thought of pushing past, of planking life, of choosing to be stronger than I felt, felt like a hint of the Holy Spirit pushing me out of the sickly comfort shell I’d created.  Start with this, and see where it leads.   It made finishing the writing almost an impatient task, because the keys beckoned, and I needed to get to them before the zeal that seemed to dangle before me, evaporated.  

But before I could leave my computer, my daughter came and complained that she felt flat.  The stillness filled her to the tips of her hair, and made her feel lonely and sad.  After a few minutes, I let her read what I’d written. It gave the correct diagnosis but not the cure.  So I read her Langston Hughes’ story, “Thank You Ma’am.”  I’d only heard it myself that afternoon, but I knew somehow, it fit the bill.  A good story that held pain and humor and hope all in one without answers seemed perfect.  Her smile returned at the end, and she hugged me. 

A good story is like a hug, it holds onto the more we seek and lets us grasp it for a moment.  Stories, like music, like art, like beauty, like prayers, like dance, are the more we do not recognize we need until we are starving for it, and unhappy because we are starved.  I’d been starving for weeks, and so the soul felt thin. 

So I finished writing and went to practice my piano, feeling more like myself than I had in weeks, other than when I went dancing this past weekend and fell onto the dance floor because my heart danced faster than my feet could follow.   If we want a society filled with deliberate joy, we will have to seek out more stories, prayers, music, art and dance.  We will have to recognize we’ve been starving ourselves for so long, we don’t recognize how hungry our souls are for this type of food.  They are all hints of the world that is, that awaits us and that is not fallen, of the Eucharist, of the community and communion we seek and only get sometimes in the midst of doing.

We are starving for this type of food.

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