I tasted food, for the first time in two days. I didn’t just eat it, go through the motions of chewing, eat just so that I could sustain my life. I tasted every morsel, every flavor. And I didn’t just order any old plain, whole wheat, healthy nuts and sprouts food. No. If I was doing it right, I was going to do it right. It was boundless egg and cheese and lots and lots of carbohydrates. An extra-large iced coffee with vanilla flavoring. If it was to be a celebration, I was doing it the right way.
We talk a lot about fasting, but we never talk about feeding- the physical and the spiritual. Emphasis is put on deprivation and emptiness but no so much on physical care and spiritual nourishment. I have often wondered about Jesus’ words to the pious and upright religious sect about fasting. I think about the concept of celebrating while He was still physically among them, not fasting. “There will be a time to fast,” he says in essence,” but now, now is just not the time.” And I have found that in my own walk the same is true. Yes there are times I have felt led to fast, not just from food but from many other things. But more times I have felt led to celebrate. To eat. Especially after tragedy and trials.
Food is a such a big part of the Jewish culture. Even in fasting we celebrate with feasting. Not just eating, but feasting. Food is also an integral part of sitting Shiva after death. We comfort through the joy of food, and bringing food is a sign of care. I have had some of my best and most memorable meals while sitting Shiva. The food is endless and bountiful, as is the conversation during the days after death.
And there is a time for fasting and a place for fasting, but why, why don’t we talk about feasting? Why do we not allow God to feed us like Elijah? Why does it take a tragedy or trial for us to taste food in our bodies and in our souls? Why do we not celebrate with the bridegroom? Isn’t it good to eat?
And after two days of trial and two days of a lack of any food that resembled any substance whatsoever, I in the midst of the trial decided that it was time to feast. I feasted because God was there. I feasted because it was time to celebrate God’s divine intervention even before it was fully realized or accomplished. I feasted because without saying a word, uttering a prayer or shedding a tear, God saw me . He knew what I was doing to myself. And like Elijah, He fed me. And I needed to celebrate with my King.
There are so many others who need to be fed. Sometimes in the midst of tragedy, a freshly baked pie speaks louder than any word or hug could ever accomplish. Yes we are physically feeding people, but we are doing something so much greater. We are feeding the hungry.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’