Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fill Us.

I'm gaining weight.

Not a couple of pounds of water retention weight. I'm talking blueberry girl on Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory weight.

The other night, I had a real love fest going on with food. I think I ate everything edible in the house. I may have consumed a few inedibles as well. I don't talk about this much, but many years ago I was bulimic. I don't even want to get into how very sick that is. It's still a sore spot in my soul. When I stopped purging, I became what is called a compulsive eater. I could eat myself sick seeking some sense of fullness that eluded me otherwise. Food was my drug of choice, and without the purge part of the vicious cycle my weight ballooned.

I'm thinking of these things this morning, before I've taken my first bite of food. When I first became Orthodox I struggled to keep the regular fast days; Wednesday, Friday, and before the sacrament of Holy Communion. I haven't fasted for months, and I don't even know what happened. I just seemed to stop thinking about it, and then stopped doing it, but I miss it. It's good to say no to your body on a regular basis. You never know when you will need the strength of saying no at another more crucial time.

Do you ever think about the language we use to describe the things of God? We say we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but not FULL of the Holy Spirit. Do you think it means the same thing being filled and being full? It seems different, doesn't it. When I think of being filled, it seems like it's a process, but being full seems a little more final to me. I don't know about you, but I'll take either, however, if I had a choice in the matter, I think I'd rather be FULL of the Holy Spirit.

Full means I don't need food to eradicate feeling sad, or lonely. Full means I don't have to fret over money or my future. Full means I just write, and proposals fly right out of my head and onto my word processor. Full means no more empty. No more places were God's presence seems AWOL.

I don't feel Full, and it's good to be honest about that.

So, what's a girl to do when she doesn't feel full, and she wants to stop medicating the sad and the scared with the bread of this world, instead of the Bread of Life? One obvious choice is to partake of the Holy Supper. If I had to choose one thing, and one thing alone as the reason that I am Orthodox, it would be the Eucharist. Yes, Lord, to eat of your flesh and drink of your blood. The mystery that is unspeakable. I will stay Orthodox for that alone. But I don't partake of Him everyday, and what of Monday? What of the other days of the week, stretching out before me, seeming endless and empty?

That is when I wish I were Full: when I don't hear Father Leo's big booming tenor, or the sweet harmonies of our choir serving up the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom every Sunday morning.

Maybe God doesn't really want us to be Full this side of Heaven. Maybe, it's best that we are being filled, so that we continue to abide in the Vine. So that we keep our empty tin cups that are our bodies before him. I don't know.

Just fill us, Lord. Not with food or drink or drug, but fill us with Your Spirit. Your Precious Spirit that is God. We are hungry, Lord. We are thirsty. You promised that if we hungered and thirsted for righteousness you would fill us.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee,
Op'ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day.



Heather Diane Tipton said...

"Just fill us, Lord. Not with food or drink or drug, but fill us with Your Spirit. Your Precious Spirit that is God. We are hungry, Lord. We are thirsty. You promised that if we hungered and thirsted for righteousness you would fill us."

Oh Amen!

Praying for you Raga! Love ya!

renee said...

Oh, I so resonate with this.

I've been losing lately. And it is a constant struggle to willingly feel "empty."

I realize that I am terrified of need.


Connie said...

This is a post I really get and can relate to as an emotional eater from way back. Coming from a non-sacramental holiness tradition (which few people even know about), the appeal of Orthodox Eucharist, Catholic liturgy and Anglican Communion have had compelling force for me. But there is something from the hymnody of my non-sacramental roots which speaks to all of this. It is a hymn about holiness and the true fulfillment (both words in one) which comes through being connected to Christ as Bread and Christ as Living Vine. Here is is, from a brilliant, depressed, but triumphantly holy man, long dead, Albert Orsborn:

My life must be Christ's broken bread,
My love his outpoured wine,
A cup o'erfilled, a table spread,
Beneath his name and sign,
That other souls refreshed and fed,
May share his life through Mine.

My all is in the Master's hands
For him to bless and break;
Beyond the brook his winepress stands
And thence my way I take.
Resolved the whole of love's demands
To give, for his dear sake.

Lord, let me share that grace of thine
Wherewith thou didst sustain
The burden of the fruitful vine,
The gift of buried grain.
Who dies with thee, O Word divine,
Shall rise and live again.

So this is what I think. I think that holiness is about this continual dying to self...the little deaths which fasting demands, the bigger deaths of ego which are necessary sometimes (like my confession to being jealous of you.) This kind of thing needs to die in order for me to be whole. And as this happens, "for me to live is Christ!"

Talk about mystery! Breathing in, breathing out. Christ. Eating, fasting. Christ. Loving, being celebate. Christ. Serving others, meeting self-care needs. Christ. Being empty, being full. Christ.

Thank you for this wonderful post which, this morning, has caused me to think of what it means to be full of the Spirit of God. I am thanking God for you, and dwelling in the certainty that the sincerity of your prayer must be answered.

olympiada said...

Hi Diva
You know it is interesting you post about this. I just started working an AA program. I was told by an Al-Anon member that my anger and intensity indicated I was an alcoholic. I was taken aback as I have never had a drinking problem but I listened and obeyed. So I went to AA and got a sponsor and told her of my life and she said "sounds like an addict to me!" Ok.
I too struggle to keep the fast, more so because I am the single mother of a young daughter and she does not have to keep the fast. So yesterday she offered me her salad from lunch she saved for me that had parmesan cheese on it and chicken and olive oil...Of course I could not decline...And I thought of what the first deacon's wife taught me about hospitality.
Then when I am home alone eating breakfast, I don't want to eat to satiety. I always think of the missionary I know in Uganda who sometimes has to go hungry and whose colleagues, elementary school teachers, often have to starve.
I have found myself getting filled by the word of God as of late. I have humbled down and admitted I do not know the bible and have started reading a different book each day in accordance with my divorce care email.
So being full is an interesting topic indeed.

upwords said...