31 January 2011

'Man cannot live by bread alone'

If you go days without eating vegetables (or fruit), your body starts to act unhappy. This feeling that there is something wrong is likely worse if you're used to eating a lot of vegetables.

As much as I believe God intended us humans to eat vegetables on a regular basis, I'm pretty sure that this isn't exactly the intended meaning of the text, 'man cannot live by bread alone.' (Matthew 4.4)

And yet the idea of going without vegetables gives a good illustration for how I've experienced this text in the last little while. Just like I feel kind of out-of-order when I haven't had enough vegetables, I feel kind of grouchy and out of sorts when I don't attend communal prayer times regularly.

It's not that this is the only way I can get 'my vegetables' (i.e., relating to God): reading the Bible, personal prayers, singing, attending church services, reading good spiritual literature, playing piano, visiting a monastery for a weekend are all other ways that I've discovered. But there's something about communal prayer appeals to me; kind of like I prefer broccoli to beans (and much more than brussel sprouts!).

I'm thankful to live in a place where such communal prayer isn't so far away. I've discovered that it takes 15 minutes to get from my apartment to the chapel of the brothers of Saint John here in Den Haag. I haven't made it to the prayer time at 7 a.m. yet, but the midday prayer (and once in awhile the evening prayer) is becoming a regular part of my life. The classic prayer liturgy of psalms and prayers, chanted by a group of monks close to my age, is starting to become welcomingly familiar to me.

If I ever feel too lazy to get on my bike to go there, I can always remind myself of how not ideal it feels to go without vegetables for too long...

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