I walked into the room and said, “You’re still here!  I thought you were going to get out of this joint a week ago!”

“You and me both,” he responded, with a roll of the eyes.  “But I get to eat today!  Meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy.  Now, I’m sure the meatloaf won’t be as good as my wife’s meatloaf, but…” (His wife smiled blushingly at me)

For the next twenty minutes he talked to me about food.  Fried pickles, fresh peppers from the garden, peanut butter and onion and popcorn sandwiches (his favorite!), where to get the best gizzards and onion rings in all of Indiana, how to raise prize-winning tomatoes…

The professional chaplain in me started getting anxious — where are the feelings?  where is God?  We’re supposed to be talking about something holy…

And then I realized, to a man whose disease regularly takes away his ability to swallow, to a man who has been having “food” unceremoniously dumped into his stomach for several weeks, there is little that could be more holy in this moment than the reveling in all the food he will soon be able to chew, taste, savor, swallow.

So we talked about food and that became our prayer of gratitude and joy.

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