What are the most memorable meals you have ever eaten?
Years ago when I was in high school our Pastor took us on a mission trip to rural Maine where we worked in a camp for handicapped children. It was quite an experience for a young man from northern Indiana to see a part of the country that I had never visited. One afternoon we went to a lobster cookout in the small village where we were located. I had never eaten lobster but to this day I can still remember the delicious lobster which we could eat all we wanted that day. I still enjoy an occasional visit to Red Lobster.
Just a few years ago I was in Croatia after their war with Serbia. I was with a group from my denomination visiting church leaders in Eastern Europe. In this small village which still showed the signs of war on almost every house, we were met by about 10 people who had gathered together a small lunch which obviously took much of their resources since they were very poor. I still remember their sandwich of egg salad which was made with love for these fellow Christians who had come so far. I remember praying with them and only after a few hours listening to their stories with the help of a translator we felt we had known one another for years.
Over my 28 years as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Muncie, we made over 25 mission trips to a small village in the Yucatan of Mexico. At the end of every week the people of the village of Xocenpich would throw a fiesta with all kinds of Mexican treats.
Without question, most of the meals I have eaten in my life I can’t remember at all. It’s challenging–in fact for me to remember a good deal of anything I have eaten within the past seven days. But I have the distinct impression, however, that if I hadn’t eaten some good meals over the duration of my life, I wouldn’t be here right now.
What are your most memorable spiritual experiences?
One could be joyful while another traumatic. One might happen in a quiet chapel while you were alone, while another might be with hundreds of other people at Vatican Square in Rome or in a gospel sing at your church. Sometimes God’s Spirit comes into our lives as a lightning bolt while for others it felt more like waking up to the realization that you are deeply loved by a God that will never let you go.
Truly memorable spiritual experiences are wonderful. But for many people they are few and far between.
What keeps us spiritually alive? Daily prayer, moments of silent meditation are essential. Reading the Bible even when it feels like we aren’t learning anything new will often bring new insights when we least expect it.
It’s challenging to remember specific discoveries from most of our most memorable feedings. But we get the distinct impression that unless we make time day by day to feed our inner spiritual world we would have starved a long time ago.
Throughout this fall season, our bodies will faithfully remind us every day that we need to eat.
May we also heed the more subtle pangs of spiritual hunger that God faithfully sends our way.
Ron Naylor, Chaplain