Soul Food

Life Notes—January 31, 2013 

“He humbled you by letting you hunger…in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  Deuteronomy 8:3 

Recently I attended the funeral for the mother of a long-time friend.  The minister recalled, factually, how this caring lady specialized in feeding both the body and soul of those in her presence.  Warm cookies and good conversation are among my memories of her home.  He spoke of her life in poetic terms and quoted Carl Sandburg, saying, “Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.” He followed with a story inspired by a quote from the Prophet Muhammad, “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul.”  The point for us is that we do not live by food alone.  For a rich and full life we must also attend to feeding our soul.

If we were simply physical creatures we would be happy and satisfied with shelter and a full stomach.  But we are not.  Clearly, there is more to our reality than the physical. Abraham Maslow, an influential psychiatrist of the last century, postulated a “hierarchy of needs,” where our physical needs are primary—when we are cold and hungry all our attention is focused on warmth and food.  But once our physical needs have been met we experience a much different kind of hunger for a higher and fuller state of being.

There are many ways to feed the spirit and most of us probably practice a number of them.  Music, poetry, scripture reading, prayer, worship, gardening and meditation are among the different ways people feed their spirits.  Exercise, though considered a physical activity, can help free the mind to focus on spiritual matters.  Serving the needs of others less fortunate is also a nourishing practice, both for the served and the server.  The point is to stretch our awareness beyond the obvious, familiar and physical.  The world of the spirit is present wherever we are, but it extends beyond what we can see. We must find ways to reach for it; and in our reaching we experience deeper levels of blessing in every common reality.  A hyacinth is a beautiful flower.  And it has a beautiful fragrance.  And the combination of its beauty and its fragrance can take us to a level of experience neither can accomplish alone. It is food for the eyes and a balm for the soul. It is soul food.  Mmmm, good!

Tom will preach downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Reverend Kara Eidson, KU’s Campus Minister, will preach at the west campus where worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.

Come home to church this Sunday.  You feed your body; we’ll furnish the hyacinths.

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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