Over the years I’ve come to think of this period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as the Eating Season. We begin the season with a bang, over-eating on Thanksgiving Day, and then we gather for food-oriented parties pretty constantly until New Year’s Day has come and gone. Cookies and candies, whether homemade or store-bought, are typical gifts in this seasons, as are bottles of alcohol.
I’ve frequently found myself wondering what we’re trying to fill with all this food and drink, and I’m not the only one to wonder this. Back in the 1600s, Blaise Paschal in his Pensées (which means “Thoughts”) spoke of a God-shaped hole within us. A number of others have since contemplated whether our human tendency to consume, indulge and binge has something to do with attempting to fill that inner emptiness with things that ultimately are incapable of doing so.
We can trace this hunger and thirst all the way back to Jesus. In John’s gospel, we hear about how Jesus went to one of the Jewish festivals in Jerusalem and proclaimed, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38). Jesus understood that it was our need for the Spirit that was at the root of our thirst, and our hunger. That’s also what he was trying to convey to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14.
And so, as you participate in this eating season, I invite you to be aware of your own inner thirst and hunger. What have you consumed in your own drive to fill this God-shaped hole? What is it that you truly desire? Are you willing to invite God to fill you with that living water?