I didn’t eat dinner last night.
Since my Crohn’s diagnosis, I have learned that sometimes it is easier not to eat, and last night was one of those times. I could feel some cramping and unease, and didn’t feel like taking a chance on asking food to wiggle its way through my intestines.
I thought through my preceding meals: nothing too irritating, so this pain wasn’t likely to last long. Also, they had good amounts of vitamins and protein (or as much protein as a vegetarian is used to) so I could probably get away with skipping a meal.
I wasn’t planning to choose one word for 2013, but last night as I lay in bed a little crampy and a little hungry, it came to me: Fuel.
For years I fueled my entire life with willpower and grit. I never asked for sustenance because I didn’t think I deserved any. I was here to spend myself, I thought, not to ask for support. My energy and drive made me think that there was nothing I couldn’t do all on my own, without ever filling my tank. When I tried to feed myself, it was with the byproducts of my own efforts: accomplishment, recognition, applause.
Then I got sick, and I was forced to rest. I learned that the best cure for a flare of symptoms was what I now call “aggressive napping”. I had to ask colleagues to cover for me. I had to ask my sweetheart to drive sometimes. I started to read more about nutrition and the million crazy diets that people propose for healing digestion. I joined a farmshare. I grew my own herbs and then lost them. Like most people who have a health issue, I started to think about my fuel, and how that affects my body.
As I move away from the life I had, of radical independence and ridiculous self-sustenance, I learn more about what fuels me, and I cherish it. The thing about the fuel that I eat, is that it allows my body to work the way that it should. It is simple and natural, and it makes me into what nature intended me to be.
So too with my spiritual fuel: when I am loved, when I find peace, when I quiet myself in prayer and sit with God, it strips away the artificial gunk and leaves me burnished and true.
This year will be about fuel for me. It will be about accepting the fact that I need to be fed, and allowing the people around me to feed me. It will be about approaching God not merely in penitence and adoration but in need. I suspect that it may also be about the person I can become, and the gifts I can offer, when I take the time to fill my tank.