woman * agnes

Catherine Keefe recently asked me….

“What is the sound that hunger makes?”

This is a profound question – beautiful and painful – I couldn’t answer right away. 

I spent the evening reading silently from my new devotional.  I fell asleep with the lamp on and the little red book open in my hands, rising and falling like a fluttering bird or a loved one’s heart. 

*

When I woke, I remembered a story told by Agnes Bojaxhiu. 

“One night, a man came to our house to tell me that a Hindu family, a family of eight children, had not eaten anything for days.  They had nothing to eat.  I took enough rice for a meal and went to their house.  I could see the hungry faces. . . .

The mother took the rice from my hands, divided it in half and went out.  When she came back a little later, I asked her:  ‘Where did you go?  What did you do?’

She answered, ‘They also are hungry.’ 

‘They’ were the people next door, a Muslim family with the same number of children to feed and who did not have any food either.

That mother was aware of the situation.  She had the courage and the love to share her meager portion of rice with others. In spite of her circumstances, I think she felt very happy to share with her neighbors the little I had taken her.

In order not to take away her happiness, I did not take her anymore rice that night.  I took her some more the following day.”

*

I drove myself to a nearby chapel.  I sat near the fountain.  Wedding guests… but the bride was missing.  Spanish-speaking bridesmaids wore wine-colored satin.  I saw everyone else, from the youngest to the eldest, and an Asian videographer. 

Where was the bride?  Everyone was waiting…. waiting, waiting for her.

*

I wrote:  The sound of hunger is silence until it has a voice.

*

prayer postscript:  Spotted as I drove to my tenth Commencement as a faculty member:  “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

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