Apocalypse Now

At my table in Little Jerusalem, Rathmines, I sat opposite a fascinating woman. She’d invited me to join her there for a quick meal before a meeting. After we’d ordered, she announced that she had recently been absorbed with apocalyptic cooking.

She had my attention! Here was a phenomenon of which I’d not yet heard. I assumed it was the latest of a steady stream of dietary movements or recommendations for life enhancement through selective consumption. But no, she had come up with the idea all by herself.

It had occurred to her that the man on the radio could one day interrupt the flow of music or talk-back chatter with a ‘Sorry folks, but I’m afraid I have to inform you of news just in – the world is about to end – we have three weeks if we’re lucky.’

I checked that she wasn’t actually living with an obsessive fear of this eventuality. No, she just liked the idea of simplifying her life and diet. She was inspired by the way that an imminent end to the world could sharpen one’s grasp of reality (and their view of carbohydrates!).

Subsequently, she was drawing on the dietary habits of cultures where food was limited, where people lived from day-to-day. She was practicing making meals with simple pulses and grains. She had been learning to make her own flatbread in case, one day, she had only the open fire in her living room upon which to cook. She’d mastered it – cooking her daily bread!

And there, at our table, we broke bread together, dipped it in creamy hummus and enjoyed sharing plates of salads and grilled meats. And we shared stories of recent challenges we’d faced.

She shared about a moment of festivity – where living in the moment had nearly caught her unawares. A moment of temptation where, thankfully, her Maker had brought to her mind words from another moment months before – words of warning from his Word. And she stepped away from the trap. She was led not into temptation and delivered from evil – but it had been a close call.

Just one moment! Words exchanged. Harmless flirtations. The illusion of the promise of love, attraction and satisfaction – with no consequences beyond the moment. A trap baited with false promise.

We praised God for his imminence in moments like this – for his words that come to mind if we allow them – for the strength he gave her to walk away from so much – and yet so little. And we encouraged one another to rely on his grace in the seemingly endless moments that follow these decisions – unfilled with promise and excitement. Treading the long path of obedience can make fleeting pleasures of the moment so enticing.

There’s wisdom in living as if today is our last day – making and eating our daily bread. But that wisdom is true wisdom only if we keep a grasp of the life beyond the apocalypse – and the consequences of life choices before it. There is life beyond the apocalypse for those who endure faithfully, moment by moment, with a deep trust in the one who gives us both life and bread and who calls us to feast on him.

Wisdom points beyond the moment – toward a time of no time, no night, no temptation – to joy that lasts forever.

That woman’s moment of temptation could have ended in sorrow – would have, if she’d given in. And yet she chose wisdom. And those seemingly unending moments of pain that can follow these costly decisions to trust our Lord?…they too will come to an end.

Wisdom is found in living in this moment, aware that it could be our last, living it faithfully with a vision of life beyond the moment.

It’s simple wisdom – daily bread – feeding us for our promised, certain future.

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