I am in the middle of a pilgrimage route. My stomach will soon speak volumes to me with the first little "eek" of hunger pang. I learned on pilgrimage to keep drinking and eating, even if you don't feel the thirst or pang. I drink a lot, and eat more trail mix than I care to think about. I do what I learned on my first long bike ride (1700 miles from Spokane to San Francisco when I was eighteen years old): I eat as much as I want, when I want, however I want, because I am about to burn it off. On my pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela I walked with a group of American women who kept on asking how they were going to keep the weight off that they had lost on the Camino when they got home.
Weight. Hunger. Thirst. Pangs. This is pilgrimage.
I''m working on this upcoming Sunday's sermon, based upon Jesus feeding the five thousand...those folks who were on pilgrimage, following the prophet, the miracle worker, the craftsperson, the learned rabbi from Nazareth. They came and listened to him as he preached in the middle of fields and from the end of boats.
In the middle of it all, Jesus showed hospitality, feeding the 5000 men, along with a few thousand more women and children (Matt.14:21). Having been hungry and thirsty on pilgrimage, I can only imagine the joy that swept the masses.
It is that hungry pang, that thirst, to draw closer to God, that mimics the physical hunger and thirst. And as a result of God knowing of this thirst, the result is amazing: bounty is the answer, provided none other than the God of creation.
Manna. Fish. Bread. Wine. Water.
All part of God, and God's good care of us all.