When You Hunger and Thirst

The body must be nourished, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We're spiritually starved in this culture - not underfed but undernourished.

Many people, including myself, swallow life in an attempt to keep it manageable. I mean this literally and figuratively. Whenever we're anxious, worried, nervous, or depressed, without thinking, we instinctively swallow food and drink in order to push away the uncomfortable negative experience we're feeling in our guts. We hunger and thirst, but it's not for a bowl of ice cream or a glass of wine. It's for inner peace and deeper connection.

Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, believed that alcoholism was a sacred disease. M. Scott Peck relates in his book Further Along the Road Less Traveled how it occurred to Jung "that it was perhaps no accident that we traditionally referred to alcoholic drinks as spirits, and that perhaps alcoholics were people who had a greater thirst for the spirit than others, that perhaps alcoholism was a spiritual disorder or better yet, a spiritual condition." I believe this is also true about compulsive overeating, which is the addiction of choice for many people. We have such a passionate appetite for life, we just don't know what we truly need to satisfy our insatiable cravings for Wholeness.

When I first became aware that when I "swallowed" life I was really hungry and thirsty for joy and serenity, it was a turning point for me in learning self-nurturance. Finally, I understood that I wasn't underfed but spiritually undernourished. I realized I could go within and ask my soul - my authentic self - what I needed. I learned to stop and ask myself the questions "How can I care for you at this moment? How can I love you? What is it you truly need?"

The next time you reach to put something in your mouth, take one minute to focus your awareness on what you're doing before you do it. Are you eating because you are physically hungry, or anxious? If you're anxious, a walk around the block instead of into the kitchen would be better for you and more loving. At the end of the day, are you pouring yourself a glass of wine out of habit in order to signal that it's time to relax? Instead, why not take a few moments to slip into comfortable clothes, sip a glass of delicious fruit-flavored mineral water as you prepare dinner, and enjoy the wine with your meal.? Learn to create ceremonies of personal pleasure that can nourish your deeper longings. As you nurture your spirit with kindness, your physical cravings will loosen their grip.

Realize today that you hunger and thirst for a reason. Ask your authentic self to reveal your deeper needs, so that Spirit can quench and satisfy your parched and ravenous soul.

-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy © 1995

The following story is particularly poignant:

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose.

His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin handwriting reflected thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell.

With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.

During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel."

So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was splitting in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own.

And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner? "The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. Tell me whom you love," Houssaye wrote, "And I will tell you who you are."


email: Michael@N-Spire.com

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