January 17, 2010
Weight: 202 lbs
Weight lost: -4
My father died one year ago last April. I miss him. He passed along to me so many aspects of my life: a love for baseball, my eye color, and even my lifelong alliance with food as a means of something more than mere sustenance. My father loved to eat; so do I. My father also learned to go elsewhere for fulfillment; so must I.
My grandfather – my father’s father – made his living as a farmer, a gambler, and a marksman, and at certain points in his life made about almost equal amounts of money in all three careers. He had a gunslinger’s reputation spun into legends by his friends and then inflated later by my father and his nine brothers who told and retold his feats at Herringshaw family reunions.
At age 13 my grandfather bet some friends he could shoot an apple off the head of a neighbor boy. He won the bet. He’d beg a silver dollar off a poker buddy toss it into the air and plug a hole through it with a 22 caliber rifle. If he missed, he’d pay a dollar of his own. If he hit it, he’d win the coin then take the damaged goods to the bank and exchange it for a good one. He once won a 25 pound turkey by hitting 499 out of 500 clay pigeons in an Ohio state shooting tournament. He was a straight shooter, my grandfather.
He also shot at my father – with his words. My father grew up the 13th of 14 children and the 9th of 10 boys. Early on he became the brunt of his father’s caustic wit. Who knows why such things happen, why a man would torment his own son. It happens.
My father took to eating, and over the course of 15 years wrapped himself, body and soul in thick layers of insulation. He hated himself and, as he said later, he hated others around him. Along the way developed an explosive temper that he used to keep people at bay. His anger of course only made the cycle of rejection worse.
At age 15 he went to visit his oldest brother who had just lost his own teenage son to the dreaded polio. The grief had led his brother to Jesus and during the visit, on New Year’s Eve my father too exchanged his life with Jesus.
Things changed radically after that. He lost 50 pounds. The following fall he played football, and the next Spring hit .400 on his high school baseball team. Somewhere along the way, a new force displaced his anger: Kindness. My father became the kindest of men, certainly the kindest I’ve ever known. I don’t think kindness came naturally to him; it did come supernaturally. When he dumped his bitterness on Jesus, Jesus dumped kindness into him. That became a new identity. He developed a deep curiosity for people. He loved nothing more than asking questions and listening to their stories. Plain and simple, he liked people. Working with them as he did they often disappointed and even hurt him. Sometimes they made him angry. But he always retained the same kindness, a kindness that was, and yet wasn’t his.
I’m thinking today about my father and his relationship with food, tempered and mastered by his relationship with God. I too am prone to lean on food as a crutch. But today I pause and ask God to satisfy the craving deep within me. Food is just food; God himself is food and so much more. Before breakfast, now, I’m asking him to consume me and to let me consume him.
“I take all you offer me, and offer you all I am… You are enough. With you I am ‘full.’ In Jesus…”
“The Eucharist Diet” adventure is my six month experiment taking daily communion and tracking and posting the results in my personal life, relationships, health, and body fat percentage.