September 26, 2006

Staple Food

It's odd, but I find myself more tired on tuesdays than on any other day of the week. I'm not sure why this is. It might be that I have to wake up earlier than on any other day, so I can make the train to get down to Credo (Urban Seed). It might be because I never sleep well the night before. If those are the case, though, I reckon that it's got some sort of common denominator, something along the lines of dreading what's to come the next day.

Don't get me wrong - I like the people at Urban Seed, working with them, talking with them ... and yet, every monday night I start getting edgy, worried about what the next day will bring. It's always fairly predictable - chop up some veggies, maybe stir a pot or two, saw up some bread, put out silverware and chairs, that sort of thing. Then talk with people while they eat good food. It's not hard ... but at the same time, I dread it every week. No idea why. Maybe it's because I'm trying to be changed, to be moved, and while some of me wants to, most of me doesn't. Change is hard.

Anyway, after cooking and singing a rousing version of "Be Thou My Vision" (I bet you wish you could have hymns that were 'rousing' at your church), we read a bit from Luke's gospel today during the gathering that precedes tuesday Credo:

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, "Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here."

He replied, "You give them something to eat."

They answered, "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd." (About five thousand men were there.)

But he said to his disciples, "Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each." The disciples did so, and everyone sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. [Luke 9:12-17]

I found myself unusually drawn to this particular scripture today. For some reason I'm horrible about disciplining myself to read the Bible on a regular basis, but when other people want to, I get sucked in like a paper plane into a tornado. Marcus asked us to start thinking about the sorts of questions that came out of our reading of this passage. People came up with all sorts of good ones, ranging from questions about Jesus' sovereignty to questions on whether or not Jesus was being hypocritical about feeding them miracle loaves of bread after he'd been tempted in the desert to do just that and said no (no, was the collective answer, he wasn't). My personal favorite was Marcus' point about Jesus' command that the disciples feed the crowd with what they had, despite the fact that the disciples were exhausted and that there were a gread deal more people than loaves of bread.

For some reason, I couldn't get past some of the more ... I dunno, edgy? mundane? irritating? obvious? questions that kept popping into my head, questions like:
-why is it that Jesus split everybody up into groups of fifty?
-where did the twelve baskets come from to collect all that extra bread and fish?
-how big were the baskets?
-were the fish cooked, or were they going for a sushi type lunch?

I brought up these questions to Marcus afterward, and as usual, he had a somewhat intricate response which I won't post here (because you'd have to know a lot about the way he thinks about scripture to understand it). Suffice it to say, it involves the symbolism of the number of baskets and another account in Mark about feeding four thousand guys. I still want to know where the baskets came from. I mean, did Jewish women just carry around baskets for fun? And seriously, why was the kid (in other gospels, we find out it was a kid with the lunch) the only one with a sack lunch, and why was it fish? I mean, fish go pretty stale after a while, at least, as far as I remember.

I dunno. I suppose I went into this whole internship with the aim to get answers to burning questions in my mind, questions about how to serve with a joyful heart, and the like. Instead, I seem to keep generating more questions. Is that the way it works? Does God just keep putting questions in our heads until we realize we can't ever answer them all?


A. Annie said...

Dried, salted fish can last quite a long time - many days - without refrigeration. Think of beef jerky. Though, my landlady in the Philippines gave me one to eat one time and I was quite ill immediately!

Chris said...

I didn't know that. I thought about "fish jerkey" but dismissed it as too disgusting to possibly be eaten by anybody. Then again, people eat crickets and locusts and ants and even fruitcake, so I guess anything is possible.