Everything is hungry. These are words that have moved into my awareness for weeks now. In the deep of one of the snowiest winters ever, I have had these words made visible by a rabbit that lives under our deck. As the winter dragged on and the available food became more scarce, the rabbit hopped out of hiding to search for something to sate its hunger. It ate all available weeds and grasses that still peeked out from the snow. And when that was buried it started to munch on our Winged Euonymus (Burning Bush) where the drifts of snow had created a ladder for tiny rabbit feet. After my husband added chicken wire to stop this buffet, the rabbit was on its own. That is about the time I started putting left over vegetables outside the deck door and stuck carrots out of the snow. Everything is hungry and, while I know I have perhaps created a pattern from which there is no return, I could not stand the idea of this sweet, vulnerable being going hungry. The plus was watching a rabbit eat a carrot just like in cartoons.
Words about how everything is hungry was reinforced when, during the snowiest times, we traveled to the desert of California to be stunned by the beauty of what was called a Super Bloom. Hungry…or more aptly thirsty…these dry, desert places had seen more rain than usual allowing the desert plants to bloom with colors that took the breath away. Purples, yellows, oranges, hot pinks, reds, all shot forth from brown and dusty ground. The landscape became a palette of color filling both eye and spirit, hungry for release from the monochromatic canvas of snow and ice. The plants of the desert had been fed and in turn fed those ready to be opened to the ways Creation stands ready to lift the human spirit. Always…always.
Everything is hungry. These words have been a mantra through these days the Christian Household call Lent. In these last breaths of this season that leads toward Easter, I have reflected on the idea that hunger is so much what this journey is about. Hunger for a way to be connected to the Sacred. Hunger for knowing what it means to live a faithful life, an authentic life. Hunger for seeing justice come in all the many forms and situations, in all the people’s lives whose hungers are of both body, mind and spirit. Hunger for a spirit of compassion that enfolds the whole of Creation. Hunger for walking in the steps that lead to hope and not despair, truth and not deception, life and not death.
The rabbit made it through the winter and is now eating the dead leaves that had been smoldering beneath the snow. The Burning Bush was not so lucky and did not survive. Once the ground is thawed enough it will need to be pulled out and something else planted in its place. The color and joy it brought to us will live on only in memory. Tulips and crocuses are pushing up through the brown ugliness in our yard and soon will flash color as thoughts of snow recede and will be forgotten. It might, at times, remind us of the color of the desert.
The gift of these weeks and these words has been a reminder of the hunger that walks with each of us. We are aware of all those around our world for whom hunger is not the metaphor of which I write here but is felt daily in their very bodies. Hunger comes in many forms both physical and mental and spiritual. It is visible and invisible, known and unknown. And so I pledge to be gentle with all I encounter this day and every day as I cannot always see the hunger of another any more than they see mine.
But of this I am sure…everything is hungry.