Can God spread a table in the desert?
How can we not ask this question in a time of pandemic and climate disaster?
When considering an act of civil disobedience Gandhi asked himself how it would impact the poorest person in the poorest village in India.
Perhaps we should adopt this test before speaking about manna.
We should pause and ask: How does “God will provide” sound to climate refugees? To parents listening to the cries of children dying of malnutrition? To those whose lives are impaled by racial violence? To those who are crushed in spirit, bowed down in grief, anguished by loss? Do our words only serve to comfort those who are already sated—the well fed, the housed and clothed, and those who are healthy in mind and body?
Is this one of those times when we need to refrain from speaking?
But how can we not speak?
We are in the desert, a sacred place. It is where a group of former slaves was forged into a people. It is where Jesus rebuked Satan and refused to listen to his lies. It is where countless hearts have been purged of self-love as they traversed the dark night of the soul.
We are in the desert, but in this place, too, the sower sows seed. Perhaps the parched desert soil will produce a rich harvest. We ask, not to tempt God, but because we truly do not know. What is this bread that God gives us to eat?