Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When Too Little Becomes Too Much

I ate too much for lunch today.  You see, once a month several moms of students at our school make a delicious feast for the teachers -an extravagant love gift.  With all that delicious food set before me, I over-indulged.

And now I feel sick, but not just over-stuffed sick.  I feel sick like I felt last July 4th.  I was in Uganda at the time, on the last of a three day safari at a beautiful lodge on the Nile River.  The food there was plentiful and delicious, but something about working with starving children for two weeks prior had already dampened my appetite, at least to some degree.

Let me pause here to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the safari experience -what an amazing Creator our God is!  The luxurious lodge was, however, much like the food they served -lavish and completely mis-representative of how most Ugandans live.  Frankly, I felt undeserving of such treatment.

The Lodge sent us off with generously packed box lunches that morning.  We traveled by car to Murchison Falls, and then began the trip back toward Kampala, snacking on our lunches as we went.   Later in the day we stopped for Petrol (gas), and decided to dispense of the remains of our lunches, so our driver asked the station attendant what we should do with our trash.

What happened next is the picture that comes to mind and the feeling that floods over me every time I overeat, including today.  As the attendant carried our heap of trash toward a garbage can, several other employees -all women- quickly gathered around tearing apart the boxes and grabbing every last morsel of leftover food and drink.  They were exuberant.  I suddenly felt ill.

I’m quite sure I left much of my appetite in that box of scraps at the Petrol station outside Kampala. Trust me, that is a good thing.  Most of us Americans eat way too much anyway, and with no conscience whatsoever.  I am not suggesting that it is wrong to enjoy good food or even to overdo it now and then.  I am saying that living and working among hungry people has changed my relationship with food.

Dinner is no longer an entitlement; table grace is more than an exercise; gluttony is egregious.

It took more than five decades and four trips to Africa, but I think I'm finally getting it.

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