Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lenten Reflections: Some Thoughts, part II "The Comfort of Food"

What is food?

It is, of course, in the strictest sense, a biologically necessary component to advance life in an organism as the organism consumes and transforms the food into energy to be used by the organism to sustain itself. This is food qua food.

However, this definition is a cold one and does adequately answer what food is to a thing that is not strictly organism, but is a be-ing.

To explain myself as one who is a be-ing is to elevate my status from strictly organism to that of something that has a consciousness of existing, but not as simply existing, but conscious of the existing as having meaning beyond the simple context of existing in a vacuum in and of myself but that I exist in the context of be-ing in the fabric of an existence that is formed by relationship.

This relationship not only in the sense of the interaction with my fellows or the relationship I apprehend as I compare myself with, say, a dog, and discern differences between myself and the dog but as I have my being within this context of relationship I substantiate my person, that I now not only transcend organism and relationship, but have a knowledge of how I view myself within this context and I experience thought of a relation as an organism.

This is a very elementary and simple construct of how I understand person and is not meant to be exhaustive in describing the ineffable nature of existing nor am I hear advancing person to its ultimate goal and source in God Himself, Three Persons yet One God.

Person in Him and only in Him is confirmed as the mode in which it is not only correct and proper to understand the existence of myself within, but also my person gains the "gravity" necessary to exist and to not break myself utterly from the Source Himself as the product of the Fall in which I seek my meaning from a closed circuit of existence, myself, and am driven to madness and separation from God.

By madness here I am not speaking of madness in the same sense as I was in the first essay, where there I was speaking of entering a state which is not my familiar mode of existing and apprehending Reality but slipping into a mode of thinking that told me Reality was other than that which I had previously judged it to be prior to entering the madness.

The madness I speak of here is that which is a product of the Fall and that without the Grace of God, usually in ascetic effort to break with the hold this present fallen created order has on me. This hold impresses my entire being with as being in fact the normal state, that is, of finding meaning in and of myself, not in and from God and the role others paly in this type of existence is one of being foreign to the same reality in which I am in and they find me foreign to their own existence and we both experience a divide between us and interact by an understood treaty but not as in fact both inhabiting the same fabric of existence in which we are interdependent and not only this, but effect the the fabric of existence as it itself emanates and has its is-ness from God Himself.

Now all that I experience and know in this broken and corrupted mode is perverted to some degree first simply because I myself am fallen and experiencing the utility of the thing(by using thing here I lump everything into this usage, from the taste of a fruit, to beholding a sunrise, experiencing death, joy, a kiss, whatever it is that it is possible for me to know, understand, not know, be puzzled from, experience,etc., etc.) through a fallen faculty of apprehending and knowing which condition is exacerbated by my eternal soul inhabiting a dying body from which I know I will someday be separating from.

Second, the thing itself is corrupt and broken as well, as it too draws corruption to itself not because it itself is evil(St. Paul tells us in Romans 14:14 that he is convinced that nothing in and of itself is evil), but because of the fallen state of the Creation that which is good always has to fend off the attachment to itself that which is evil(i.e. sound metal attracts rust, whole and healthy attracts decay, sickness and death,etc.) and am not speaking of that which is good and cannot have evil be found in at all, that is our Holy God in Whom is no darkness but Who is Light.

Food itself is not evil. Nor I would venture to say is the enjoyment I have when I eat and enjoy the flavors, aromas and textures of the foods which I like.

For myself, this Lent I came to recognize a bit more and to coin the phrase for myself, "The Comfort of Food" to denote food as something to which I turned to give me a comfort, a familiarity, a security which in fact may be abnormal and unhealthy. Again, I am not using the terms abnormal and unhealthy to denote an addictive quality(though they may indeed denote some such attainment of any created thing taken so far out of its context so that it becomes perverted).

Quite simply, I have begun to understand what we Orthodox mean when we say that "We eat to live, not live to eat."

To me, the consuming of food is akin to an "Ahhh" state of thinking, like when a hard day is cured by the taking down of an alcoholic beverage and is something to look forward to.

I noticed that I attach a significance to food that is beyond its true meaning to me and has become in essence if not in fact an idol, sought after for itself to further perpetuate and increase the delusion that I am a self enclosed reality and that food is not a gift from God but more like a right, something that I am entitled to.

It has, for me, left its logos, to borrow the language of St. Maximos, its true meaning in and of itself when within Him from Whom it originates and that when I conceive of food as a "right" or entitlement, I understand it from that which is not true, a fantasy,a construct of the existence I fancy myself in in which that which is exterior to me revolves around me. In other words, self-centeredness.

Now I use food to illustrate this awareness but may easily slip over this to anything else: money, position and prestige, sex, and so forth.

May God not only illumine me to my predicament but through holy fear enable me to break free from my attachment to this world that I may not remain earthbound.

Lord have mercy.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very nice reflection. God Bless Soph

In Christ, George