Last week a friend generously offered to help me move a trundle bed across town to my place. We loaded the side and head boards into my little old Rav4 and strapped the mattresses and base boards onto the roof. Moving along the highway toward our destination we noted how hungry we were and began making plans for lunch. As we began to ponder that age old question, “what do you feel like eating?”, a powerful gust of wind snatched the mattresses and base boards off the roof of my car and flung them across the busy highway. Stunned, we stopped the car, jumped out and ran back to where the bed pieces were scattered on the road.
Worried that an accident was sure to happen we held our breath, watching as several cars and semi-trucks ran over and swerved around the stuff. Waiting for a break in the traffic to clear, we saw one last semi-truck approaching at a high speed. As the truck reached one of the base boards the driver slammed on his brakes. The truck began to skid sideways, smoke rising from its tires. It was sliding straight toward us. We had no where to go. In front of us, a ton of skidding medal. Behind us, a cement barricade and a three story drop to the highway below. In that moment, I thought “We are going to die!” I envisioned my friend and I crushed by the 18 wheeler, and the trucker plunging off the side of the road to his certain demise. With the stench of burning tire in the air and the vision of the truck skidding toward us, the second thing that came to my mind was “I am really hungry”. (Yes. You read that correctly. Hungry.)
So a week later I am sitting in my comfy chair with my laptop writing this, so obviously I didn’t die. In a moment of unbelievable grace, the truck driver let off the brakes and steered the huge vehicle out of the near jack knife and on down the road safely. But let’s get back to my rather humbling thoughts when faced with the possibility of death. I would like to think that when the chips are down I will have high-minded-profound reflections as I face my final moments. Instead my thoughts went to a basic: hunger.
Recently I read an interview with Geneen Roth about her new book, Women, Food and God. I understand the book is about women’s complicated relationship with food and our emotional/spiritual well-being. In the interview she states that the most important question to ask ourselves is “What are you hungry for?” Chances are that the answer is not Thai food or pizza. We are hungry for much more than food. Perhaps the more precise question is “What is your soul hungry for?”
That question has been nagging me for days now. It is no wonder that hunger asserted itself as I watched that truck careening towards me. Hunger is about as basic as it gets. Every living being experiences hunger. In order to survive I need to be fed. Hunger leads me to what I need to nourish myself. The nature of hunger is just as important as the way in which that hunger is satisfied.
I am soul hungry. My soul longs for much not yet within my grasp. Hunger keeps me moving forward, growing. Yearning can be an opportunity to lean into the experience of this moment. Just as I search the refrigerator for something to satisfy my hungry stomach, yearning opens up a space within me to recognize the desires and needs of my soul. What am I hungry for? Intimacy? Comfort? Joy? I can only nurture and feed my soul if I know for what I hunger.
Soul hunger can be like a prayer. It is a way in which the Divine guides me to what I need. Ignore my hunger and I will feel the pang of emptiness or the twinge of restlessness. It is my hunger that will guide me to feed my spirit in life-giving ways. Hunger isn’t just an annoying feeling that I need to quiet, it is a holy companion on my spiritual journey.
So what are you hungry for today?