Many mornings, Jan and I make breakfast for the children.  Because they are home-schooled, we have the time to eat with a bit of leisure.  Today, as so often, we had chocolate chip pancakes, bacon and (for the Mama) a BLT.  Cups of hot tea followed.

It is a small thing, breakfast, and food in general; but not so small.  One of the things I was taught in my training was to offer food or drink to agitated or mentally unstable patients.  I’ve done it many times, and have had remarkable success.

Sometimes, a soda, a cup of coffee, some crackers and peanut-butter have as much benefit as any pharmaceutical product ever could.  In the midst of their anger, their frustration, I get up to leave the room to order labs or make phone-calls and I turn, ‘can I get you some coffee?  Something to eat?’

They look surprised, ‘yeah, that would be nice.’

Whether it’s children starting their day of learning, or the wounded patient at the end of his ability to cope, there is power in food.  Southern Baptists (and former Methodists) like me have known it for years.  Food is a great delight and a powerful antidote.

Jesus was forever eating.  In fact, he was accused of being a drunk and a glutton.  He turned water into wine; he fed the 5000 and the 4000 with a few loaves, a few fish.  He ate grain as he walked through the fields on Sabbath.  When he raised the daughter of Jairus, he said, ‘get her something to heat.’  His last collective act with the disciples was a meal that we still commemorate as Communion.  And after the resurrection, the disciples see him on the beach, cooking fish.  Jesus knew the power of food.

It is tangible, earthly comfort.  It is necessary nourishment.  It is a kind of link between matter and energy, isn’t it?  We eat the matter and it becomes the energy that we need.  Small comforts represent larger realities.

‘This is my body, this is my blood.’  He even represented himself as food, as nourishment, and so he is.

It’s no wonder that food can encourage the young, ease the loneliness of the aged and calm the angry.  It represents so much that is good in life.

And unlike empty philosophy, unlike ethereal arguments, in contrast to complex therapies and even more complex medications, it is real, available and pleasant.

‘Feed my sheep,’ he told Peter.  And so should we feed everyone who hungers for the comfort of tangible love, like pancakes…or a simple cup of coffee.


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