Good Morning, Friends!
We are at the halfway point, and if you’re anything like me, the lack of food and the monotony of meals are probably getting to you. If it is any consolation, I haven't talked to anyone who has had an easy time with this challenge. This week, I've talked with all types of people: a woman on a trip in California who is eating her rice and beans, a child who has been eating rice and beans at school, and a businessman who just had his rice and beans during a lunch meeting at a swanky restaurant in the Sears Tower. And they were all struggling. Others are just plain grumpy without their morning coffee! But I have good news. Once we make it through today, we are in the home stretch.
If you are tempted to quit the challenge or to cut a few corners, just focus on getting through today. In places like Zimbabwe, people often have nowhere to turn when they are desperate for food. I was told recently about children in Zimbabwe who go along the side of the road with old plastic bottles, looking for corn kernels, green soybeans or anything else edible that may have fallen from someone's food sack as they were walking along. Even worse, I learned that some are so desperate, they pluck undigested corn kernels from cow dung. They wash the kernels, pound them out, and cook them. We really have no idea what it is like to be hungry.
I long for the day when the promises of Revelation 9:16-17 are fulfilled: "They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore . . . for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes."
Until that day, may we live out our call to be the Church in this world.
P.S. We are in this together, so I encourage you to lean into others you know who are taking this challenge. I have been hearing funny stories and lots of inspiring ones. This week we are creating memories and instilling values in our families, our church, and our community. Check out this story written yesterday by Shauna Niequist:
Rice and Hope and Creativity
It’s only Day 2 of the Celebration of Hope Food and Water Challenge…but it hasn’t taken long for me to realize how dramatic a change it really is. No huge cup of coffee this morning, and no second pot (yes, pot) at 10 a.m, because it’s cold and cloudy and snuggly at home, and because I love the smell. No glass of wine with dinner last night, and no day dreaming about what we’ll serve our dinner guests tonight. We’ll serve them beans, rice, and tap water. The part of me that loves cooking for dinner parties is going crazy over this.
I’m realizing that hunger is just one part of this—the most important part, of course. But there are some other things I notice, too. I’ve noticed the boredom, and the lack of creativity. I love food—I love thinking about it, preparing it, planning menus. I love what happens when a fresh herb hits hot oil in a pan, that bright release of sound and smell. I love slicing and thinking through tastes and textures.
And to prepare food without being able to taste it feels like being blind. My son is too young to understand the Food and Water Challenge. For the record, he also doesn’t understand why anyone would use a potty when they can just wear a diaper, either, so we have a long way to go before he grasps things like solidarity and global poverty. Last night when I made his dinner, it felt strange to serve him a sliced apple I hadn’t tasted, or a new kind of vegetarian mayonnaise without trying a bite of his little sandwich. I felt cut off from a large part of my life and my senses.
As I planned a few errands for the day, I added, “Buy flowers” to my list. I’m not really a flower person, generally. I don’t garden at all, and I don’t buy myself cut flowers to have around the house. My husband knows that I’d like a glass of champagne and a novel more than a bouquet of flowers any day. But today I’m thinking about flowers, thinking about a little life and beauty and color and creativity—the things that usually come from our kitchen, but not this week. The kitchen is clean, certainly, no bowls of fruit, no fresh loaves of bread on the counter. Again, I know that the core of the issue isn’t creativity. I know that thousands of people all over the world aren’t dying of lack of culinary creativity, but lack of nutrients. I understand the science of it.
But today, I also understand the art of it. I imagine a woman who has never felt the joy that I feel when I stand at my kitchen counter, slicing, listening to the hiss of rosemary and garlic releasing their smell into the air, harsh at first, and then mellow, the sound of gentle sizzling. Or maybe she has experienced this at one point, but doesn’t anymore. Which is crueler? A lifetime of the monotony, or memories that you can never recreate? I don’t know.
Another errand I added to my list is “Food Pantry.” I went through the pantry in my kitchen last night (certainly some sad attempt at being involved with food, even if I couldn’t consume it), and found all sorts of things we won’t really eat, or multiples of strange things. How many bottles of mustard should one have on stand-by? Probably three is two too many. And cake mix: I don’t bake. Ever. But I bought a few mixes at some point in case I ever change my mind. In the meantime, an actual person could have actual cake. And actual mustard. And actual tuna. So we have a few bags of soup and pasta and vegetables, and we’ll drop them off at the Food Pantry, and then we’ll go buy some flowers.
Or maybe, in the spirit of things, we won’t buy anything at all, but we’ll start to notice flowers all day today, and this week, signs of beauty and hope and creativity all over the world.