The Contemplative Companion for Saturday, February 11, 2017

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart”. – Psalm 90.12

“In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, Jesus summoned the disciples and said, ‘My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.'” – Mark 8. 1 – 2

Today’s lectionary readings remind us of the connection between what we “consume” and our “inner state.”

On the physical level, we understand by way of personal experience that if we eat Twinkies and french fries for dinner, we will probably have heart burn that night. In contrast, if we eat modest portions of easily digestible food such as fruits and vegetables, we will feel more energized and most likely not suffer ingestion.

On a psychological and spiritual level, we may not as readily perceive how influences are food. Influences can be anything we see, hear, read, or experience. Influences are a kind of food for our consciousness. Certain influences are detrimental – like a horror movie. Others are energizing, like a worship service or a walk in an alpine forest. Intuitively, we often discern the difference between influences in our life. The question is what influences we ultimately choose “eat.”

Wisdom is the food of the heart. Wisdom-words embedded in scripture, nature, silence and solitude, feed us with a higher quality energy that is life-giving, producing the fruit of wisdom in us, as well as other fruit – such as love, joy and peace, to name a few.

The invitation for our personal life is to notice the influences we are feasting on. Perhaps there are some that are causing you emotional, intellectual or spiritual “indigestion”?

Jesus recognizes that the crowds are hungry. While the literal setting suggests they are hungry for physical bread – perhaps what Jesus is saying is that one can have all the material bread in the world, and still be spiritually hungry.

Time is a factor. Use your lifetime to consume wisdom not just fluff. Become more attentive to the quality of external influences you are letting into your sacred internal environment.

It’s also not just about what influences we choose to eat. On this planet, and perhaps in the entire visible cosmos, everything seems to be eating and being eaten.

The invitation is to ponder what you are eating, and what is eating you. Anger. Fear. Jealousy. These are “energies” that often eat us. Taking from us something of our peace and joy. Wisdom, scripture, silence – these are “energies” and “influences” that we can eat that will truly feed us – and free us from the cycle of a consumer life that only feeds on itself, for its own pleasure and satisfaction, often depleting everything and everyone else.

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