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Speaking out to myself, taking a few first steps

by davesandel on November 22nd, 2021

Monday, November 22, 2021                         (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Thirty-fourth and final week of Ordinary Time

Speaking out to myself, taking a few first steps

Daniel was resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food or wine.

My friend who is 76 told me yesterday, “I still eat like a 16 year old!” His metabolism has served him well; his body hasn’t filled out like mine has. “I do too,” I said. Neither of us was sure what to say next.

Later I went to a Chinese buffet with other friends, and I ate bits of everything. I was drawn more to the salads and the kimchee than the wok-fried meats and rice. I didn’t lose any weight, but maybe I didn’t gain any either.

Please test your servants for ten days. Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men who eat from the royal table.

You know the story. The Daniel diet worked for them, and it works for us. But I live to eat, I do not eat to live. Still, that could change, if I decide to change it.

Mom’s doctor told her a few years ago to eat what she wanted. She had outlasted the dietary warnings. So she ate what she wanted. It didn’t seem to bother her, although as her lungs became weaker the rest of her didn’t want much food of any kind. But she had gummies by her chair, and she liked ice cream. She gave me lists of exotic things to bring her from Trader Joe’s, whenever I would make a trip.

I have not yet reached that point of no return. My doctor has told nothing of the kind. Change your diet and exercise, walk 20 or 30 minutes three times a week, and then you’ll lose some weight. Then you’ll live longer. Yada yada … OK, OK. Of course he’s right.

To Daniel and his friends, God gave knowledge and proficiency in all literature and science, and to Daniel himself the understanding of all visions and dreams.

Instead of exercising my body I exercise my mind. But my brain is part of my body, so this priority could be a mite short-sighted. Abraham Lincoln read books while he walked. Many of us listen to books while we walk. If I put one foot in front of another, I could certainly do that too. In both Urbana and Austin, I watch others do the same thing every day, down relatively safe paths through our small sections of city.

I fancy myself a risk-taker and an out-on-the-edge kind of person, at least in the way I think. With just a little mental tweak I could begin caring for my body, that temple of the Holy Spirit lent to me for this small time, the same way.

Jesus told his friends, “See that poor widow, she put two small coins in the offering box. But she put in more than those wealthy folks because she, from her poverty, gave all she had.”

Jesus admires and strengthens risk-takers, those who go all in. Working any diet or exercise program for myself? Never get there. Finding my way to doing it for Jesus? Whole other result. But these words I say to myself are not new. I know how shallow they set themselves into my life when it comes to giving, and when it comes to eating and exercising. Jesus, open up my eyes and close my mouth. Let my body express your joy in me. Let me breathe in the nourishment of heavenly movement, always toward you.

None was found equal to Daniel and his friends, and so they entered the king’s service.

 (Daniel 1, Daniel 3, Matthew 24, Luke 21)

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