'For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.'
I had already written the previous post on this Sunday's Gospel before I went away for a few days to Lindisfarne, the Holy Island of Celtic Christianity. The Celtic air has given me another view, and following the advice of another writer, I am sharing the words that refuse to be 'saved for another day'.
Some places are known as 'thin places' and as a description that is about as much as you can say without being there; and too much to say once you have. My first step on the island, many years ago now, brought me to a home I have never known and I now try to visit at least once a year.
One year, my friend Andy, wrote a quote in my prayerbook -
'I am an emptiness for Thee to fill, my soul a cavern for Thy sea' - by George MacDonald.
At the time it was an evocative quote as I was, I thought, quite full of God. I had parried with demons; I had been fed by angels. I had had scales lifted from my eyes and words put into my mouth - or at least my pen. I was utterly inspired by this emerging revelation of the Divine. That has been a continuing experience that I have been more than thankful for; that God filled my emptiness seemed an appropriate description.
The quote returned to my thoughts this year almost as soon as I reached the island and mingled with the words of the Gospel. And the word that joined them was 'hunger'.
Physically, I am not a naturally hungry person - and not particularly bothered about food - until I am tired; under stress; anxious or feel out of control. I can trace it back to my childhood; I can find a hundred reasons why - but who to blame is not the issue. Like most comfort eaters - what I eat is not good for me and does not make me feel any better - in fact...this 'bread' leaves me feeling 'dead'.
When I am tired; anxious; out of control, I need to be mindful. I need to recognise that this is a spiritual suffering; a hunger for the healing power of the divine. Not to be filled with the stuff, the empty calories, that this world has to offer; the treats and gratifications - even religious gratifications - knowing that they don't last and will only leave me feeling even more sorry for myself.
This hunger lurks in the quiet cavern of my soul creating un-quiet; this is a false emptiness; the enemy whispering that all this sacred space is wasted; God is elsewhere; has better things to do or even that I can deal with them myself. Worst of all that I can deal with them myself.
I was reminded that this space is necessary; it holds the paradox of Grace - the food of life that is given to be given away - there is a rhythm to it just as the tide fills and empties a cleft in the rocks.
It is the storehouse for the harvest; the new wineskins; the cavern on the seashore. To hold the life that comes from the Father through Jesus; it must be empty; I must be empty. Empty, yet filled with this hunger for God; the anticipation of the turn of the tide; the roll of the waves; the food and drink that comes from heaven.
In Jesus' name