For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. --Matthew 25:35
We often like to work out complicated patterns of expectation and religious rules that we should observe in order to placate God, or become more spiritual ourselves. But it is not all-night prayer vigils, or going to church every day, or willing ourselves never to break a commandment that fosters our relationship with the Holy One. Rather, it is the sharing of food and drink. Whenever we give food to someone who is hungry, or drink to someone who is thirsty, God looks on it as if we were doing it for God alone. This seems a simple task, but it is hardly easy. It takes observation and a certain kind of un-self-consciousness to identify those who are hungry and thirsty, and a measure of deep and true caring to actually provide the nourishment that is needed. It is always easier to pay attention to our own needs – our own desires, hungers, passions; our own sadness, loss, anger – than it is to be on the lookout for the needs of others.
The subtle miracle is, of course, that when we allow ourselves to be drawn outside ourselves, like sticky sap from within the bark of an ancient maple tree, we find that our needs diminish and our joy increases. As we become a part of the giving of life to others, we are filled to overflowing ourselves and are stunned and startled to find that what had seemed so important for our happiness was not so important at all. It doesn't take much to be wrapped in that happiness as in a soft warm blanket. All it takes is the sharing of food and drink.
O God, remove the heavy blanket of self-absorption from my soul, that I may find my spirit lithe and free.
These meditations by Renee Miller first appeared at explorefaith.org
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