There is an old Bible story about bread falling from the sky.
It comes from the book of Exodus, which tells about the Israelites’ being freed from slavery in Egypt. Afterward, they were traveling through the wilderness toward the Promised Land, but it was difficult to live and feed themselves in the wilderness, and they started to complain.
And so God promised to send them quails to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread (manna) would fall from the sky.
There was really only rule about manna, which is that the people were to gather “enough for that day” from the flaky bread that had fallen over the ground like frost. On the sixth day, the day before the sabbath day of rest, they could gather twice as much.
Whatever they didn’t gather from the ground would disappear, and whatever they didn’t eat from what they gathered would spoil.
Last week, in preparation for the Golden Gate Bridge walk, Chris and I went to Costco.
We loaded a cart with giant boxes of fruit snacks, chips, trail mix, and juice boxes, and we ordered three platters of Subway sandwiches and a birthday cake.
On Saturday we watched as our youth circled this food multiple times, helping themselves to seconds and thirds and then grabbing more for the road. By the end of the afternoon, there were just a few bags of trail mix left.
We know that our youth are tweens with bottomless appetites, but we also know that all of our teams have spent time exploring how complex the issue of food is for our youth and all youth who have experienced trauma.
That old Bible story has helped me understand more deeply where our youth are coming from.
I know that for the ancient Israelites, the hunger in their bodies reflected a deeper hunger in their souls for stability and familiarity.
They missed what they had left behind, even though what they had left was miserable and unhealthy.
They longed for a place to call their own, and they longed to be provided for.
Because their lives had been disrupted so suddenly, they wanted to store up as much as they could, because they never knew what tomorrow would hold.
I have a feeling that God’s definition of “enough” didn’t always match the Israelites’ definition of “enough” when it came to recommended daily portion sizes, just as our idea of “enough” refreshments for Braid gatherings doesn’t match our youth’s ideas of “enough.”
And so, God gave them the same challenge presented by just about every major religious tradition: to gather “enough for today,” to seize each day as it comes, to trust that what we need has already been provided within us and all around us.
Probably the most famous Christian prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, includes the line: “Give us this day our daily bread.” And yet this is a strong contrast to our culture that encourages us to store up much more than a daily portion of anything. (See above reference to my Costco membership…)
It took the Israelites forty years to absorb this lesson as they walked toward the promise of a better future, and even then they frequently forgot it. It will probably take our youth – and all of us – a lifetime to fully trust that we are loved and cared for.
We walk toward that promise together. Thank you for all you do every week to help our youth take a few steps closer and for the love and affection you rain down upon them in the community you have formed.