I started something new today.  I participated in a small writers group for clergy.  We did timed periods of free writing (this period was on anything that came to mind after hearing several passages of scripture).  It’s not finished writing, but this is what I produced:

What is it like to be hungry?

I think that’s hard for us to imagine.

Back in seminary, one of the neighboring seminaries had a day to remember those who were hungry.  And they invited their students to fast until dinner that day.

I remember, I can’t remember why, being in an informal worship gathering with some of these students after dinner.  And one young woman went on and on about how, now that she knew what it meant to be hungry, she could stand in solidarity with those around the world in their hunger.

And I remember thinking, she was a naïve fool.  To imagine that some 10 or 20 hours without food gave her any real sense of what it meant to go chronically hungry.  I’d fasted for 5 days before, and I knew that didn’t begin to give me any real sense of identification with their plight.

To begin with, it wasn’t so much about the feeling of hunger.  That mostly went away after a while.  Though I remember feeling ravenously hungry upon my return from a 3 day backpacking trip on which we forgot to bring the food.

No, what we did was both brief and voluntary.  True hunger is about chronic malnutrition.  It’s about not having enough food for your body to develop properly or resist disease.  It’s about life and death – simply finding enough to survive until the morning.

We used to have a companion parish in Uganda.  They knew about this.  They knew if the harvest was bad, their friends and neighbors would die.