Food for the Journey
I picked up Benjamin Dreyer’s Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style for some fun summer reading. Dreyer is the Chief Copy Editor of Random House Publishing. He has penned a perfect book for people who use the English language in its written form. He sarcastically and satirically journeys through a long list of do’s and don’t’s (one of which is to do what I just did there), when and how to use parentheses, when and how NOT to use ALL CAPS for emphasis. His guide is filled with stories, etymologies, snipes at the President and golden nuggets like, “Clichés should be avoided like the plague.”
Dreyer also offers two pieces of wisdom from his professional experience to writers. First, buy a copy of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Second, keep a journal of words, phrases, quotes, and dialogue that capture your attention.
I did both of these (now). I have not yet cracked the dictionary and I have exactly one entry in the words and phrases journal: Food for the Journey.
The author of that phrase referred to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land, but I heard it far more universally. To be sure, we could argue the universality of Israel’s journey from slave to free, oppressed to inspired, lost to found. That phrase caught me as an insight into both the foods we eat and the journeys we take.
For the foods we eat, I’m partial to meats, dried meats, ground meats, smoked meats, meats in hot dog form, bacon meats. I have nothing against vegetables—except kale. They’re nice. They’re colorful. They don’t make a lot of noise in the pot like lobsters do. They pair well with meats, dried meats, ground meats…
More than the food, I am thinking about the journey tonight.
This past Christmas the Krauss’ loaded up the Equinox and headed east…on Christmas Day. We packed sandwiches, cookies, chips. I believe a stray apple landed in the cooler, but I don’t know how. We had waters and sodas and coffee. We had enough food for the journey, but it was all the wrong food. By the time we made it to Ohio, we were slow, sluggish, and beaten.
We had plenty of time to prepare ourselves for something more substantial than lunchmeat sandwiches (even if the word ‘meat’ is imbedded in the food). Departing on Christmas Day was a part of the plan, not a surprise. The Israelites complained the whole way from Egypt to the River Jordan, but they didn’t even have time to let the bread rise.
In March we didn’t know where we were going or what we were doing or how we would know when we got there, but we managed with grace and gratitude. Our surprise journey included the unsettled, unknown, unanticipated, yet we had enough of the right food for the journey. Now, the journey has taken longer, the destination still seems far away, the unknown still unknowable and we complain with bitter tears. We want to go back. We had it better.
Isaiah invites us to an abundant life:
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Eat what is good, it is food for the journey.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.