Nourishment is more about giving and less about receiving

Nourishment is more about giving and less about receiving

Mark 8:1-10. Jesus feeds the crowd loaves of bread and fish

From a supernatural miracle perspective, this gospel accounts for how Jesus seemingly multiplied loaves of bread and fish. From a more realistic/skeptical perspective, this gospel shows how Jesus can inspire His followers to give what they have so that everyone may be full.

For me, both the supernatural and realistic perspectives illustrate what nourishment means.

In the perspective of integral human development, material and bodily needs can be considered as most basic. These are required for us to at least function; but material and bodily needs alone do not grant us understanding of our purpose in life.

Loaves of bread may make our bodies full, but the Bread of Life makes us whole and nourishes our soul.

Meal times and feasts are also about the people we are with, the potluck we bring, and the stories we share. My memory can forget the food and beer I drank with my barkada, but I cannot forget the wacky stories and laughter we shared. Yes, I may have felt full and even tipsy, but the bonding definitely nourished my social well-being.

From a personal and professional perspective, perhaps the invitation is: what can we keep on giving without expecting anything in return? What talents and abilities can we share as charity?

Lately, from a teaching or pedagogical perspective, I have tried to further hone my feedback-giving skills (this is informed by the principles of flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: immediate feedback can induce flow experiences). Chat groups and breakout rooms in Zoom have been my go-to strategies for this. Teaching undergraduate research methods this term, I understand that this is hard: imagine a total of around 15 research groups across 3 sections, each with their own particular research topics!

The funny thing is, I think I am “forced” by my professioral job to do this, but at the same time, the act of giving feedback to research is also a flow activity; a reward in itself. The dialogue and accumulation of insights nourishes the mind and the soul, even if it can sometimes fatigue the body. And I pray that I reach a point where providing insightful feedback is almost automatic (as in, almost auto-pilot) like how a guitar master can seemingly perform licks out of thin air.

Again, this takes virtuous painstaking deliberate practice.

To end this reflection, I see parallels in rethinking what nourishment means and the conditions of flow as an activity that is a reward in itself. Nourishment is more about giving and less about receiving, because the act is a reward in itself. I’d like to believe that this is a useful analogy or approximation of what we call God’s infinite capacity for love and charity.

It is in giving that we are more nourished; it is in giving that we become more like Christ.


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