Friday, March 17, 2017

From the Corporeal to the Spiritual

A consecrated virgin friend of mine sent me a sweet email about how she fondly remembers that one time I hid a can of Guinness under my coat and discreetly passed it off to her at the Angelicum - amidst all the priests, sisters, and seminarians. I have no memory of this - smuggling beer to religious people is apparently not enough out of the ordinary for me to even note.

Food is one of the many ways in which I express my love. If I like you, I will feed you. If I don't like you, I will take those last few curly fries and make intense and uncomfortable eye-contact with you as I eat them - the sort of eye-contact babies make with you when they poop their diapers.

A friend was recently over, sad and in need of comfort. Instead of hugging her, I listed off every single food item I had that she could conceivably eat, racking my mind to suggest something that might tempt her appetite. Then I hugged her. Then I suggested she talk to a priest.

When we're very sad, we tend to abstain from food because our taste for life and all it entails is dulled. Eating becomes mechanical rather than sensual; there is no joy. This is mirrored in our spiritual lives when we go to Mass and receive the Eucharist - it's like some huge fist has flattened out the entirety of our experiences so that even the most profound one possible to man agitates no response.

The urge to feed someone isn't misplaced. We need physical and spiritual food; you only become more energized when you have energy to spend and you only get energy through eating. Even though what we receive may seem unbearably and unpalatably dry, it's necessary for recovery. Eventually, things might (might!) begin to taste good again and we can lift up our drooping heads and laugh.

Perhaps the order should be a hug, then food, then a good spiritual talk. One thing that I admittedly need to work on is being more demonstrative in my emotions - they run too deep to have an easy outlet. But without external signs, how are people to know that you even care?

For now, I will simply keep trying to feed the people I care for - it is a sign that I know how to give -  and work my way up to expressing human empathy in a way that's more relatable.

But Jesus did ask Peter to feed His sheep - perhaps a little bit of Guinness can lead to God.

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