“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger.” — Jesus (in the Gospel of John)
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” — Carl Jung
“What I am looking for, it is not out there. It is within me”. — Helen Keller
“Welcome! What are you hungry for?”
You’ve been on the road for six hours, driving home from another work trip. You stop at one of those fast food places and stare blankly at the ubiquitous menu on the wall — burgers, chicken nuggets, fries.
The woman behind the counter patiently asks a second time, “What ya’ hungry for?”
But that question — as simple as it sounds — when you suddenly hear it from an unanticipated place, you just hear it differently. You’re tired. The road, and the distance it can create, has worn you a little thin. Like a Zen koan, you’d never really considered the idea so simply with such profound consequences.
And there’s a crack in the routine veneer of your life and now you’re not so sure. You can’t quite put a finger on it — the angst. Emptiness? A festering bitterness, sheer boredom, some ambiguous fear, or the simple question of, “what’s next”?
What did she ask?
“What are you hungry for?”
Thoughts stack on thoughts. Time. Love. Happiness. Money. Successful kids. Meaning.
Even when we’re paying attention, this line of questioning takes us by surprise. And instead of responding with your usual, “Make it a cheeseburger, with fries,” you hear yourself saying out loud, “I’m not sure I know.”
The young woman at the counter wants to help. She does. But the burger or the chicken nuggets just won’t do this time. It’s life itself. Meaning. Substance. Fulfillment. A path to make a difference, to feel more deeply connected, not just to family or friends or community, but to something much bigger than you. The woman is getting antsy, and the imposing trucker standing in line behind you begins to groan. You’re having an existential, spiritual crisis and you want to say, “Hold on. I’m in an unfamiliar place at the moment!”
Just last week while you were walking downtown, a guy practically accosted you shouting, “Do you know Jesus?! If you die tonight, do you know where you’ll be spending eternity? Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life — come to me and you’ll never hunger.’” But you know your hunger goes much, much deeper than an angry God’s threat of damnation. You tried that for years before “the great divorce.” The final breakaway. And now you don’t trust any of it!
This is the first time you’ve come in for a burger and left still feeling empty. Like a shadow of yourself. It feels strange. But it’s like that kind of honesty you hear a therapist telling you on your 5th visit, “There’s something here, like a room or closet or cave. But you’re afraid to go there so it’s still got its menacing grip on you. And until you do, I’m not sure we can do anything more.”
I suspect most of us have been on the edge of some transformative insight only to be overcome by the vulnerability of the moment and thrown into fear. And so we return to our habitual patterns and attachments, or addictions, or unhealthy religion, because familiarity and certainty trump real progress almost every time.
“What are you hungry for?”
Maybe this time you hear the question more clearly because you realize you’re the one asking. This is where the substance of life and death, light and shadow, come together to dance. This is where we might truly embrace the Ground of our Being. But only if we’re willing to enter that space. Brené Brown writes, “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”
We are in the Season of Lent, a time of inward glancing, exploring, and dancing with deeper questions. A 40-day journey along a path that ultimately invites personal transformation, resurrection — the redemptive possibilities of self-acceptance and love. And to guide us, we’re exploring the “I Am” sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John — words which spoke to the spiritual path his Jewish followers pursued in bringing healing and depth and wholeness to themselves and thus, to the world. And they are words that can still provide a path toward healing and wholeness today.
So last Sunday, we began to look at ways of being in the world and being hungry. This Sunday, we’ll continue the journey as we explore the dark. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”
What does light look like, in the dark?
Brad Thompson and the Revolution band will add to the conversation with music by Beck, Peter Mayer, Ruthie Foster and more.
I hope to see you then!
Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven
11:11 COMMUNITY LUNCH
Sunday, March 8, following 11:11
In the Great Hall, here, at the CTL
(Just bring yourselves, food and fun provided!)
Corona Virus Concerns – Health care professionals in the US and locally are all advising basic Flu Season precautions with regard to the recent developments with the Corona Virus. Regular handwashing after contact with others, touching counters, elevator buttons, stair rails, etc. Covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, using a handkerchief or the inside of your elbow.
On a similar note, the seating last week was tight and awkwardly arranged, so we are spreading out our seating at the 512 to give more spaciousness and comfort. In addition, there will be hand sanitizer stations at the doors.