Our Relationship is Based on Food


Grizzly sits on the dock staring up at me. I feel so loved and adored.  He watches my every move, looks longingly at me, and gives me constant attention.   I baby-talk to him about how beautiful and sweet he is and how much I love him.  But I know what the truth is.

I feed him. 

Twice a day. 

And I give him treats. Not every time he does a trick or obeys a command, but often enough so that he curiously sniffs my hands and pockets when we head outside. 

The devoted look in his eyes is because what translates in his brain is probably a word like PUBLIX or PURINA.  Short, brown-headed lady is the place for food. The one they call “Mom” is the person with food.  She = Food.  

This makes me a little sad. I want to believe I am loved unconditionally by my dog, that his affection is based on my superior qualities as a human being, that our relationship is a bond of a lifetime.

It is not so.  Our relationship is based on food. 

When he hears me go to the bin of dog food in the laundry room, he sits beside his food bowl in the kitchen, waiting. Even as I place the bowl, he reverently stays seated, his huge, bottomless brown eyes boring into me until I say “OK” before he takes the first bite. 

Just as I begin to accept the reality that our relationship is food-based, I remember that Grizzly has been given to me to teach me more of the One who made him.  I question how my relationship to Jesus might be based on what he can give me.  At first I feel guilty, like I am supposed to just love him for being Jesus and not what I can get from Him, but then I remember the Eucharist. I remember what I’ve already been given. 

Our relationship (mine to Jesus and His to me) is based on food, too. He said in John 6 that He is the bread of Heaven, that feeding on Him gives eternal life. At the Last Supper he blesses the bread and the cup and tells his disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me.”    The food he offers is Himself. That is what I need and what He provides.  Over and over. Week after week. I don’t have to do tricks or perform; I just show up at the rail hungry.  Jesus just feeds me because I need feeding, because He loves me and wants my soul satisfied.  HE=food. And for that I adore Him. That is not a bad thing or a conditional love or any less of a bond.   I love Him as a response, just like Grizzly loves me as a response.   

I’ve got a list of things and people I’d like Jesus to change, including myself most days.  There’s plenty I’d like Him to do and could suggest the ways in which He accomplish those things, but that’s kind of like Grizzly telling me how to run my household.  He’s better at being at just being a dog.  I’m better at just being a hungry soul, kneeling at the rail, waiting to be fed.

My relationship to Jesus is based on food and that is not something to be sad about at all- rather to celebrate -every time communion is served . 

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