Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Necessity of Hunger

"The number one reason to fast is that food tastes better when you are hungry." Augustine said that (more or less - I paraphrase 'cause I can't seem to locate the source). Augustine's not a guy I quote often given that he invented the doctrine of original sin, and blamed male lust on the women men lusted after. But I like this.

And I find it comforting. Especially as a strange coterie of Republican extremists and center-right Republicrates (Obama, Harry Reid & like-minded congressional "Democrats") eagerly pass legislation guaranteed to take the present, U.S. economic recession-bordering-on-depression into a full-fledged, undeniable depression. (We can't have a "double-dip" recession if the recession that started under Bush never ended - CEO salaries, global corporation profits and stock prices notwithstanding.)

But what if, in the larger spiritual picture, the role of these insulated, corporate politicians actually is to explode the U.S. economy? Could that be a spiritual good in the largest, universal picture? A creative passage of fire, a dark road that many people of this nation need to walk? Yes, huge, visible suffering will be visited on masses of folks - I expect to be one of the suffering. But out of that ash land, what might we grow?

So many of us, myself included, have lived with such a surfeit of guaranteed comfort for so long that we have no idea what food tastes like, a dry bed feels like, or how water quenches thirst. We need to rediscover hunger. For our spirits' sake.

For ten years, I walked the terrible dark road of despair and grief and self-hate. Many don't make it to the end of that road. I came out the other side with help from those I met on the way. I wouldn't wish the same journey on anyone. Yet I am also immensely grateful I was forced to go there. The perspective, compassion, presence, and humility I learned were worth the price and the danger.

I've yet to meet anyone who choose such a path. We have to be driven. Our coping strategies and comfort blankets have to be forcibly stripped off.

If the impending economic depression is just such a forced stripping away, maybe our national journey into the dark could bear equally valuable fruit.

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