A few years ago, I picked up a book called The Diet Alternative
. The author, Diane Hampton, told the story of how she found herself overweight, resorting to unhealthy eating and living habits, and not knowing how she’d gotten there. Her realization reached her during an eating binge and purge, when she realized she didn’t know how to stop. In her recovery through prayer and fasting, she pinpointed where her problem stemmed from: losing her hunger.
In a physical sense, her body had lost the ability to feel hungry. Hunger is a natural sensation that we are born with, including the ability to feel full or satisfied. Hampton explains that she had overindulged so often that her body had learned to ignore its natural tendencies.
I believe the same is happening with our spiritual hunger. We are told that our conscience is our internal, moral compass. We may struggle to accept this when we see so many poor, harmful choices being made. But an informed conscience -- close to God -- is one that keeps us naturally in-tune with what is good and healthy.
I can’t count how often I hear: “What does your gut say?” “Use your head,” and “Listen to your heart!”
Truly, these three components do make up a good conscience, built right into our beings. But I’m sure many can agree that we don’t listen to them at all times. Why? Have we forgotten how to trust our human instinct?
The gut is our first impression. Immediately, we know if something is good or bad. It’s an instant connection to how we feel about something. Whether we listen to it or not, that intuitive surge exists. The gut is a wry character; he judges things immediately. Listen, but don’t linger.
That’s where the brain comes in. He is a wise old professor, who craves the full story and often does detective investigations. He takes his time processing information, creating pro-con lists, and synthesizing our past experiences and future endeavors for optimal success. Think, but don’t get caught in a circle.
Our hearts are at the centre of our being. It holds impressions and memories, where our emotions find their hiding place. She is a generous, warm, delicate thing, and needs protecting at times! To put her at the forefront of absolutely everything without consulting the gut or the brain, she would surely not stay tender for long. She’s something special to be held like the treasure she is. If she is abused, we may lose our ability to love with our whole heart.
Like our physical hunger, our spirits have a hunger too. We have the potential to lose that instinct if we do not connect with God and check-in with ourselves. How do we start fresh when we are so confused about how we got to a place we didn’t want to be? Much like Hampton, fasting (with the mind or body) is a great way to gain that hunger back. We don’t know what we have until we leave it behind. We must dare to feel what that absence is like to know when we are filled.
The silence of prayer, and the support from the ones who know and love us best, are the places to revisit to get plugged back into our natural, healthy hunger.
This post comes to us from Leanna Cappiello, a former S+L intern and graduate of Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario who recently served as an intern at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations and is currently working at the Stratford Shakespeare School in Stratford, Ontario.