Appetites and True An
above -- neighbors this winter joined us once
a week for soup. It was during a dinner like this that Jack
(second from left) told me about his moment of enlightenment.
. . . Gods
grace makes every moment shine. Grab your darkest pair of sunglasses
and lets take a look.
. . My
neighbor, Jack, had a shining moment once. I know it was a
moment of grace for three reasons: one, it changed his life;
two, Jack tells others how it changed his life; and three,
having heard his story, I want to share it with you.
. . It
was at Thanksgiving, 1997. First off, I should say that Jack
doesnt exactly call this a moment of grace. He had finished
eating a huge meal. If he could have eaten more, he would have.
He couldnt. All he could do is lie in his chair.
. . Perhaps
he was groaning. He was definitely over weight and his poor
heart was struggling to pump blood. (Ka-thump! Ka-thump! Ka-thump!)
He was so full, he had trouble breathing. He was absolutely
stuffed, yet (shield your eyes, here comes the shining moment)
he wanted to eat more.
. . Actually,
wanting to eat more wasnt the moment. The moment itself
was one of insight. Jack realized his desire for more food
had nothing to do with needing more food or even having any
place to put it. It had nothing to do with reality. It was
a false appetite.
. . Actually,
having this insight wasnt Jacks moment of inspiration
either. Lots of people realize they have false appetites, that
they dont have to eat so much, smoke so much, buy so
much, or read so many essays. Insight seldom changes behavior.
It must be accompanied by something else, something that allows
a person to turn around, to change their life. What is that
something? Lets call it grace.
. . After
Jacks moment of grace he started running regularly and
lost his excess weight. Now he pigs out only on special occasions,
such as Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, when he still enjoys
all the delicious food set before him.
. . As
you know, the season of Lent is upon us. I have never cared
much for the fasting that goes with Lentwhich begins
on Ash Wednesday (the day after Mardi Gras)but Jacks
story has me thinking about false appetites, that Lent might
be an appropriate time to examine my own false appetites, that
fasting may be a way of confronting them.
. . Im
reminded of a song Dave Matthews has on his Crash CD
called Too Much. In that song Matthews imagines
our appetite as an insatiable desire to consume everything,
even the cities of Gods country.
jam got more cars
than a beach got sand
Suck it up, suck it up, suck it up,
fill it up until no more
Im no crazy creep, Ive got it coming
to me because Im not satisfied
The hunger keeps on growing
I eat too much
I drink too much
I want too much
I told god, Im coming to your country
Im going to eat up your cities,
your homes, you know
Ive got a stomach full . . .
this is from Lucinda Williams song Passionate Kisses found
on her self-titled CD (and on Mary Chapin Carpenters Come
On Come On). Here is a song that celebrates true appetites even
if, at the same time, it pokes fun at the idea that we deserve to have
a comfortable bed
that wont hurt my back
Food to fill me up
and warm clothes . . .
Pens that wont run out of ink
and cool quiet and time to think
Shouldnt I have this
Shouldnt I have all of this and
Passionate kisses . . .
I wish all of you that moment of grace that allows you to abandon false
appetites and to follow your true appetites, those things for which
your soul yearns, those things God means to give you.
The above essay
first appeared in the St. David's Messenger, the newsletter
of St. David's Episcopal Church in