Past, Death, Present

Many novels I have read are written in third person, past tense. As if the story has already happened, yet is now of crucial importance. Perhaps the stories that have already passed are even more relevant than what is known as “current affairs”. Maybe folks who often say “the good ol’ days…” in conversation are on to something. This moment, now, and how we qualify it, is intrinsically lacking if not seen through the lens of that which has come before. The stepping stones leading up to where we stand on the path in this moment are keys to understanding where we are, and why we are here at all.

Right now: I dance while I cook my own dinner in the house I pay to live in, decorate, and clean weekly. That is nice, but it isn’t a story. The story came before. The story is that there was once a girl who lived at the end of a dirt road whose mother always cooked the meals & whose father did the 9 to 5 & made demands on the rest of the family at his whim. This girl perceived these whims to be quite, quite, QUITE anti-female, and anti-her best interests (oftentimes laziness, or dislike of being forced into anything). This girl made the decision, there as she pulled weeds in her demanding dad’s garden, or vacuum-hosed out a vehicle, that she would be the boss of her own life, and she would not cook or clean. She would do the “real stuff” (whatever that was…).

Fast forward a handful of years & that girl is independent, for real. She has said “no more” to the strangle-hold family & cultural expectations (& her perceptions of those phenomena) & lives with a woman who kindly opened a guest bedroom to her in the second year of study at a local community college. That young woman stares down a  sauce pan, exhausted of eating eggs over-easy, yet, out of ideas, intimidated by complicated recipes & long grocery lists (& high costs). She eats over-easy eggs again.

Fast forward once again & the girl is back from 5 months spent abroad, a woman now, Not a young woman–a woman woman. She has clinical depression, but does not know it yet. She knows that she fell in Love with a (young) man. She knows his family made her feel comfortable. She knows she is now alone; he is not here, & no matter what anyone does or says, she is the only one who can finish her Bachelor’s Degree. She is the only one who can get her out of bed. She is the only damn one who can cook her dinner. She read that a key to lifting ones’ spirits is to eat well-seasoned, well-cooked food. She started with a shrimp & noodle dish. She wanted to eat something bland and simple like tuna or refried beans on a corn tortilla again. Yet she knew she was the one who could give her body what it deserves at least once a day, if not thrice. So she cooked noodles with clear sauce, and shrimp. Her hackles raised when a co-worker asked smuggly why she was eating something with no sauce but she knew inside, it was an accomplishment. She had gifted herself a good meal, & she considered it a worthy investment. She considered her own self worth a quality meal, even on an average day, even if she did the 9-5 all by her (bad) self.

There. That is the story, written in past tense. It is the story that makes what we see (a woman cooking her dinner) a story rather than a scene. The joy is found in the juxtaposition of where she was with where she is. Who she was bled out & gave rise to who she is in a dance of creation, death, & resurrection,

Perhaps the flesh of human stories exists in the past, in what the conscious mind forgets, & the subconscious remembers.

This whisper leaves my lips: thank you. For who the girl was, who the young woman is, and who I will be.

Creation, death, resurrection. Forever & always the circle of life. May every story–now and in the past–be doused in Divine Light. Amen & amen.

 

Shanti, friends.

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Food Good

I did not know I had a problem. It was a situation that brought no attention to itself. Everyone does what I do…sometimes. It is normal and therefore healthy. Right?
Not my food addiction.
I habitually put far more hope, security, and time into food than I realize.
After my third fast ever-a sun-up to sundown purge-I see my tendencies more clearly. It’s painful. I actually sat down and watched a whole TV show without getting up. I sat down at the computer without first taking fifteen minutes to prepare a snack. The day went by faster (no thoughts of when the next meal would occur, perhaps?) though I seemed to have more time. Every time my stomach let its emptiness be known I turned my thoughts heavenward (general Christian fasting etiquette I suppose). I prayed that God would be my bread of life.
Guess what? It was not actually that hard. I am certain that the time I spent praying for the fast before I started had a lot to do with it. The reality is, though, I am not as dependent on food as I like to think I am. I eat for more than nutrition. It’s not about eating enough to survive. I eat all that I can without gaining weight (Vanity? you ask. Let’s save that conversation for another day.) because I love food. I love the way it makes me feel and I love the distraction. I like the way the taste takes me away and frees me from my human pangs.
Time out. I am still a fan of food. Food is a gift from God to us. He feeds us spiritually and physically because He is that great. I just ate ice cream for Pete’s sake. Food good.
What I am talking about is the line that I have crossed between food as a gift and food as an obsession. It has become an obsession. I think about it constantly. Most moments you can find me either eating, preparing, or dreaming about food. I revel in the time and thought that feasting takes away from my duties and shortcomings. I am guilty of using food as an escape route from the reality that God has placed me in. I have a responsibility to know Him, to spend time at His feet learning. Instead of appreciating the time I have to spend with my Lord I bury my face in the pleasure of food. The delight of food is temporary. The delight of knowing God is eternal.
I thank God for leading me to fast today for the sake of illuminating my problem. I enjoyed the freedom of today. I like not being enslaved to my mortal body. I am also scared for the lengths to which He may take me. Hunger is not for sissies. But then neither is sanctification.

In Him I will find true delight!

Everyday I worship at the altars of comfort and control. But God’s powerful and patient grace is rescuing me.~Paul Tripp

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.~Romans 12:2