The title is from a movie I saw some years back but have never forgotten. The Feast of Love is a movie about the different facets of love and answers real-life questions about suffering, fear and hope.
Here is an exchange between Harry Stevenson (Morgan Freeman) and Bradley Thomas (Greg Kinnear) after a particularly tragic event happened.
Harry Stevenson: God is either dead, or he despises us.
Bradley Thomas: You don’t really believe that.
Harry Stevenson: Maybe. I saw the most remarkable thing just now. I wandered into the stadium, I thought I was alone… but down on the 50-yard line, there was a couple. They were making love. I watched for longer than I should have. I was envious… and then I felt sorry for them. There’s so much they don’t know; heartbreak they can’t even imagine.
Bradley Thomas: [sighs] Well, even if they knew, it wouldn’t change anything.
Harry Stevenson: How so?
Bradley Thomas: Chloe knew what was going to happen to Oscar.
Harry Stevenson: She knew?
Bradley Thomas: She did. She went to some psychic lady, predicted the whole thing.
Harry Stevenson: She believed her?
Bradley Thomas: Yes, Harry, she did. She didn’t run away, she didn’t crawl into a hole. She found them a house. She threw away her birth control and married him. God doesn’t hate us, Harry. If he did, he wouldn’t have made our hearts so brave.
At any time, but more this year than others, at this time of the Great Pandemic, during this year that changed the world, this line rings true for me. Sometimes we do not understand the many things that happen to us. And the easy way out is to blame somebody else for our own miserable life. Most of the time, we blame God. Or this year, we could blame the Pandemic. Or COVID 19. When something really tragic happens we think that God has forsaken us or just plain hate us.
But we look all around us and there is evidence of great love amidst great suffering. A lot of people finally found themselves in quarantine. A lot of people left jobs that they have been sticking to out of desperation but really kept them from doing their life’s work. A lot of people began to see what is essential in their lives. People stayed home and spent time with their families. We also saw people helping each other out, reaching out over online conversations to friends who lost family, sending care packages to people who are lonely. I saw people leave candies and cookies outside their homes with notes for delivery guys.
We learned a great deal about how people can be stupid and selfish (since media loves to focus on this), but there’s a whole network that focuses on good news as well. We also learned a great deal about ourselves and about our capacity for humanity and the depth of our spirituality.
Many years ago, in another lifetime, I met an extraordinary woman in Sapang Palay, Bulacan, the Philippines who had 12 children. They lived in an abandoned house that they found, cleaned up and made their own. Her husband works in a small construction company getting a daily wage lower than the minimum rate. She launders clothes and cleans houses to augment the meager income they have.
She told me how hungry they can get sometimes. Sometimes, she would just tell their kids to fend for themselves because they don’t have food anymore. One time, she only had half a kilo of rice left, and she had to make rice gruel (lugaw) so all 14 of them could eat.
I decided to spend one Christmas dinner with them. They knew I was coming and they were probably stressed about my visit but I assured them that I was bringing food to add to their Noche Buena dinner. So when I came, I brought with me 2 kilos of corned beef and 2 kilos of spaghetti noodles and sauce. She met me at the doorway and I gave her the food so she could prepare it. She was teary-eyed because she told me her husband came home that morning empty-handed from work. He had worked in a construction company and was hoping to get his salary that day so they could have something special to eat for Christmas dinner. But they were told that their salaries will be delayed. She apologized because what I brought will be the only food we were going to eat. I told her not to worry about it, and it’s a great thing I invited myself!
As 12 midnight neared, she put our food on the table, and painstakingly divided our food among the 15 people who were there (12 kids, her and her husband and me). And then she prepared another plate which she slowly filled with some of our food. I asked her what she was doing, thinking it was a family ritual they do every year. She said she was going to give some of our food to a neighbor who lives just two houses away; the neighbor also works in the same construction company as her husband and he also didn’t receive his salary that day.
We ate our spaghetti and our corned beef and it was the best spaghetti I tasted in a long time. For it became a feast of the Emmanuel. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they give us a glimpse of the heart of God.
God doesn’t hate us. If He did, he wouldn’t have made our hearts so brave.
You have a minute? You might also find these interesting:
- Letters from Casa Santillan
- How Psychology and Spirituality are Two Sides of the Same Coin
- Three Practices to Celebrate Your Day
- Volo Ergo Sum
- First Two Steps to Creating Resilience