Eating Without Hope
“To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.” Pearl S. Buck
Dieting is eating but it isn’t what I would define as eating to live. Having lived in New Orleans for several years, I experienced what it meant to eat and to live. Meals were savored, not rushed. Lingering over each bite of food while commenting on the flavors and aromas made eating so much more than just consuming food.
Eating in New Orleans was a social occasion. Good friends seated at a table sharing food, conversation and a bit of their respective lives. Food and drink were to be thoroughly enjoyed while you examined where you were in your relationships and where you might be going in your life as each day unfolded.
Food tasted better while eating with friends and colleagues. Each bite added to the sum of the experience known as lunch or dinner or a late night treat. Good friends, good food, good memories helped us to drift towards a sense of hope in our lives.
The hope we felt after sharing a meal was the hope born from being comfortable in the world, satisfied with our friendships, and literally full of nourishment. Hope seemed like a noble purpose to pursue, a reason to thrive. It resulted from the comfort of food, fellowship, conversation, and an awareness of living a full life, taking in all the tastes, all the flavors, all the textures and all the moments of calm relaxation. This was eating with hope, of being alive.
Yet there are many examples in the world of people eating without a sense of hope. And this taste of hope, while eating, is a form of starving – starving to death.
Standing in line, waiting for food, waiting to eat, waiting without a sense of hope, this is the starvation of which Pearl Buck speaks. You and I can quickly look up the statistics for those in the world who are hungry or malnourished. We can even go a step further and support organizations that seek to feed the hungry. But have we found a way to share the hope that might go along with a hot meal, any meal? Can we be present at tables where hope isn’t realized?
What about those who are alone at mealtime? What are we doing for them to offer them hope in their aloneness? What about the elderly, those confined to institutions and nursing homes? Is hope their companion at dinner? Or are they starving to death too?
“Every life should have a noble purpose.” What could be nobler than sharing hope and a meal with someone who might otherwise be eating, yet still be starving?