I went home for lunch today and found a quiet house. LP was in the shower, and Snowman was–well, it wasn’t clear. Things were unusually silent. (He has been practicing a lot.) I didn’t stop to investigate thoroughly. Sometimes grown-up children nap during summer vacation, and I don’t want to be the one to wake them up (“Never wake a sleeping college student” being the successor aphorism to “Never wake a sleeping baby.”)
I fixed a sandwich while watching the qualifying rounds of the Women’s 800 Meters, and shortly after I sat down to eat, LP appeared. “I feel nauseous,” she said. “Maybe it’s because I haven’t eaten lunch.” It was almost 2 p.m. “Make yourself a sandwich,” I suggested. Voila! Renewed strength and energy, no more stomachache.
All those athletes need to eat, and they need to eat the things that make then strong and energetic. We watched an interview with Sarah Robles, American weightlifter, who is living on the $400 a month team stipend while training. (Her teammate, Holley Mangold, lives in her training partner’s laundry room.) With a charming innocence, Robles explained that it’s hard to take the right kind of care of yourself when you can only get the canned and boxed foods available at the food pantry.
I think of my sons, because artists train and care for themselves like athletes, and how Snowman says he can live on ramen, but in fact I know at conservatory he uses the crockpot he bought with a Christmas present gift card, and I know #1 Son buys the same bagged kale at his neighborhood Trader Joe’s that I buy at mine.
Nourishment matters, all the ways.
The alternate Hebrew Bible reading this week is a snippet from the story of Elijah. Tangled up with that reprobate Jewish queen , Jezebel, he is now under threat of death for killing her preferred “prophets,” servants of Baal and Asherah. So he takes off and lays himself down to die, filled with remorse for killing the opposition.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”
Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.”He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again.
The angel of the LORD came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:4-8, NRSV)
God apparently is less fussy about Elijah’s actions, having other work for Elijah to do. I find that a relief when I consider the number of times I’ve felt my actions or circumstances might disqualify me for further service. I love it that even a prophet so powerful and brave that he can stand up against 850 competing prophets (something to do with a bull, see chapter 18, but yuck!), can be depressed and faint with hunger and be revived by cake!
I love it that God knows we can’t do our work unless our bodies can support it.
I’m writing this sitting in a downtown coffee shop with my 17-year-old. I can’t afford to do this every day, but we have done it almost once a week for the last year or so. She brings homework (summer reading today), and I bring my laptop and write liturgy, or start on my sermon. Our circumstances are relatively luxurious, even though they aren’t by worldly standards. Sarah Robles sometimes can’t afford the gas to get to practice. I can’t watch Olympic stuff on upper tier cable or via the DVR I used to have because we only have basic, a choice that helps me put gas in my car…and buy the coffee we’re drinking and the lemon square we’re splitting this afternoon.
More importantly, this time is passing by, when we will be in the same place and able to go once a week to sit across a table from each other in a noisy coffee shop, where I will wrestle with the Bible, and she will tell me how the vulgarities in her summer reading book would be acceptable if it were Shakespeare, but it is not.
“Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”
These cakes baked on hot stones are worth the price.