“It’s manna.” “No, I mean, what really is it?” “I’m telling you that it’s manna.”
At the beginning and during difficult times in our lives, this is the question we keep asking ourselves. If not those words then others similar in meaning. We may even preface those three words with the Son of God’s name with an exclamation point at the end. That statement tells us and those around us about the break from our normal to this now confusing or trying time.
“What is it?” is one definition of manna, food from Heaven. The forty-year desert travel was no picnic for the Israelites. God provided them with a daily, morning picnic of this dry food that needed to be quickly collected, eaten and stored before it evaporated. Manna from Heaven. God’s gift to help sun-drenched, thirsty people safely travel to their destination.
In difficult times we may not be able to identify or recognize a cause. We only have this one question with no response. It’s a numbing feeling, sometimes freezing. We look to manna, whether it’s a diagnosis, shocking news, a surprising turn of events or a personal shut-down. Manna allows us to gather, eat and store what we need to see through and beyond what holds us down.
Gathering, Eating & Storing
Calling our present situation “manna” allows us to make this whole experience spiritual, God-infused, God-influenced, God-centered. Including a spiritual perspective breaks us from the loneliness that bad news brings. Through prayer or meditation, we include a spirituality in our present and future deliberations. That’s the gathering of manna.
Gathering manna together with God connects us to family and friends who divinely represent the best of what manna means. We then slowly begin to eat, digest and become a part of a spiritual hope, fortitude or whatever strength we may need at the moment. (You are what you eat?!)
The storing of manna is my favorite part. Like a healthy squirrel, we fill our cheeks with all the “tomorrows” we can hold. It’s that damn “today” that holds us down but it’s those hope-filled “tomorrows” that lead to peace. If it sounds too optimistic then keep gathering until you reach a plateau beyond yourself. It is then that eating and storing will make sense and become real.
Later in the Scriptures, Jesus tells us that he’s the manna sent from Heaven. Those desert folks died, he said, but those who eat and drink of me will live forever.
Whatever union we seek, whether it’s Jesus or another form of spirituality, it all adds up to answering that haunting question during a questioning period in our lives, “What is it?”
Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
Available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
“Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflection on the Christian seasons of
Advent, Christmas/Lent, Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
The newest book is “Letters From My Cats,” a collection of writings from my cats’ perspectives