We sat at a table in the sunshine.
Sandwiches were for lunch, as we collaborated on a Bible study and plans for a weekly meeting with our international colleagues. My friend suggested an age-old method that guides people in listening to God through a passage, asking Him what He’s saying for ourselves, and then asking what He’s saying we should do with it (a process called Lexio Divina.)
The brownies had just come out of the oven, at that meeting with our fellow workers. We read, slowly, the ancient words of Isaiah 55: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! …Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” We listened for words from God and prayed them into everyone who asked.
Sweet juice, two cups of it, sat on the table in front of my Arabic teacher and me. “I have no friends,” she said; and an ever-so-slight tremor in her voice undercut the stoicism in her face. The hunger for relationship remained. The tension between resignation to the situation being faced, and resistance of the circumstances– this tension I would see on dozens of other faces in the next few weeks.
Cheaply packaged chocolate wafers were handed out to all the students– and to us volunteers– at the afterschool program for young refugee women. A social worker from Syria asked me how I was doing since the last time we had met. After the pleasantries had been properly conveyed, she made one more statement, leaving me with no Arabic or English reply: “My house in Syria was burned in a fire. It is gone.”
I was eating a late-night bowl of Raisin Bran while we chatted on Skype. She caught me up on discoveries and dreams developing in Jersey, and asked how things were for me in the Middle East. Have you ever seen a little girl try to lift her father? I asked. She can’t move him a bit, no matter how determined she is, how hard she tugs. But he swings her into the air….
That’s how I feel when I read Isaiah 55. I can stay hungry and thirsty, regretting my deficits, and scraping to find something to serve to others. I can spend my labor, without moving the circumstances around me; and instead of satisfaction, I’ll get dissatisfaction and disillusionment.
Or I can let my Father carry both the weight of the world and of this little child. A physical need, a method of connecting as human beings, a requirement for growth and replenishing, a gift to make celebrations more fun– food and drink are rich metaphors. And I hear Him inviting me to sit down, drink and eat, and trust He’s got covered both my and my neighbors’ hungry souls.
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. –Isaiah 55:2
P.S.– Currently on my “moving songs for this journey” list, and stay for the powerful lyrics: The Cupboard’s Full