I’m eating cheezies while I write this. The good ones. You know, those ones made in Belleville, Ontario. I’m pretty sure they’re good for you. They’re crunchy and they’re orange. I like that.
That’s important to me, because I’m a very discerning eater. Some people might say I’m fussy or “a picky eater,” but I prefer to think discerning. I have good reasons for the few - okay, many - things I don’t care to eat. Like raisins, for example. They’re just grapes that somebody belittled until they shrivelled up from a lack of self-confidence. I also don’t like beets. I don’t mind the greens, but beets are just like a turnip somebody beat up (yes, I went there) until it bled. Then there’s cauliflower. Just really pale broccoli that failed at being green. And don’t even start me on pickling things. We only really needed to pickle things before we had refrigeration. We have ‘fridges now, people, you can stop pickling. There’s more, much more, but I’ll stop there.
See, discerning. It is just possible that my criteria for being discerning might not include things like nutrition or good health, but I am discerning.
And that’s a little bit of a problem for all of us. Sure, some people are conscientious about being healthy and taking care of themselves. But lots of people will eat pretty much anything. Others are fussy and not always for good reason. Others would be happy to subsist on a steady diet of junk food.
We don’t just do that with our bodies, either. Take a moment and think about some of the things we put in our minds. Or our hearts.
Some people will gobble up just about anything if they’re hungry enough.
Here comes a really big pivot, but this is where my very discerning mind is this week.
Like the Israelites in the wilderness. Yes, that’s what brought me to this, the Exodus story. Moses has led them out of Egypt, they’ve crossed the sea and they’re on their own in the wilderness with no one chasing them. They are their own people, free and clear of oppression and now they’re hungry. So they complain to Moses and God feeds them with manna from heaven. Wait, though, there’s more than manna. In Exodus 16, it says that there’s quail in the evening and manna - bread from heaven - in the morning. Later, we’ll hear that they ate manna for “forty years.” Wow. That’s some diet.
Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s a metaphor for how God provides them with something nutritious, something that feeds their bodies, their minds and their souls: a journey together in the wilderness, a journey of discovery about how to live together, a journey of building a sense of self-worth and a sense of community.
I know it seems like the Israelites just up and ate what ever was on the ground. And maybe they were desperate. Starving people reach for just about anything at first. But when the manna appears, their very first question was “what is this?” What it was, was something new. Something to feed and nourish them. There were many new things on this journey that fed and nourished the people. The observance of sabbath, the Ten Commandments that are fundamental guides to how we live together, the covenant, the tabernacle and more - years of instruction, experiences, maturing and growing into a community. Sure, later they might give into the junk food or just what they like for awhile, but there will be prophets and, much later, Jesus to help them get back to something more nutritious, more fulfilling and more wholesome.
Maybe that’s the thing about being discerning. Look first for that which makes you healthy, well and whole.