I’ve been hungry lately. Not physically, of course, but spiritually. Maybe it’s an after effect of Lent- I’ve been trying to empty myself, so naturally I might feel a few pangs. Lent isn’t the easiest time, but I’ve been reminding myself that some of the most growing spiritual times in our lives come after, or through, a period of wilderness.
During an early season practice of cross country one year (this was awhile ago!), I expressed to my friend during a run that ‘this isn’t as easy as some of my runs this summer.’ She quickly reminded me that, ‘it’s not supposed to be easy.’ Good friends tell you the truth.
I’ve been thinking, though, that Lent might have been harder for me this year because I made an effort to reflect. Usually it’s easier not to think about our lives- it tends to get messy and difficult when we ask ourselves hard questions (kind of like when you have a coach pushing you to run harder than you did during the off season). But I did it this year. And one of the things I think I discovered was this: I’m not always sure what I need. I can’t always pinpoint where my hunger lies.
Some of my friends who work in churches that are financially struggling, or in more urban settings, often have a very obvious sense of where the hunger is- they can see it right in front of their faces and it tells them how to get to work. But for those of us who have everything, we often feel empty and don’t know why. How could we feel empty when we have so much?
Barbara Brown Taylor hits the nail on the head with the same struggle: “Perhaps there is no proof a famine exists except the fact that people are hungry. In the land of plenty, the sourse of that hunger can be difficult to diagnose. It is often not until we have tried to ease it with everything else we know that we discover by process of elimination our hunger for God.”
I often do try to assuage my hunger with other things besides God. Food helps for about a minute. Shopping tends to make me feel good a little longer. But the hunger always comes back.
Thankfully, like a magic bullet of pure light, Easter came this year with it’s warm, sunny weather and in-laws bringing me Easter brunch to eat after a long morning of services. And now that Spring has (finally) arrived I’ve started to feel some fullness. Maybe the weather is a coincidence- to be celebrated at the same time as the resurrection.
I did a graveside service on Good Friday, which seemed most appropriate. Jesus had been dying in front of me for all of Lent, this year, but I was reminded that, as we buried her, he never left my side.
And then, as it always does, Easter came. Jesus (finally) rose. I was fed. And I had this sense that that was all I needed. Jesus- imagine that. He was what I was hungry for. I just had to die with him a bit to realize it. Christ is risen, indeed.