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The Breath Of The Soul - Spiritual Food Essay - With A Free Essay Review



Over time in the journey of faith I have come to realize how incredibly obvious humans have a desire for “soul food” and I can appreciate the home cooking and hospitality of being raised in the south. However, I cannot appreciate the south as a tradition or uphold its bitter history and prejudices. For many of us we coin the term “soul food” as for some food is more of a common meal, but for others food is in itself an experience. It is passion that goes into preparation at least in many cases if we eat “soul food” perhaps the meals are prepared using ancient recipes passed down from generation to generation, the warmth and richness of the savor fills the room and it seems to be calling your name. The environment of groups of family members, friends, perhaps total strangers who are new comers all united around the table.

The concept of the table has many thoughts that could come to mind, even in religion we have a moment where we join around the table. The table has seemed to become a place of gathering, a well of sorts, a place of resting from the labors of the day, the place to have those open discussions, the place to be gathered with family at occasions, perhaps an invitation to meet new people and yet we create the environment of what it means to be welcome.

Jesus in the gospels promoted the idea of “The Table” even now it is where the Holy Eucharist resides. Jesus exists in community, he broke bread and Drink wine and experienced the fullness of fellowship with disciples, but as he traveled, it seems as though stranger after stranger came unto him. At times people who were not esteemed at all and even shunned would come to this anointed one and freely were embraced. The table proclaims one universal message, come you weary and heavy laden and experience rest, come strangers, come be gathered by the great Sheppard experience community, fullness of joy leave any worries behind, come be democratic.

In the time of Jesus radical statements were made and of course some of those statements made are still foreign in comprehension. “Let the dead bury their dead “or “You must be born again” how about “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” or the statement that made the disciples freak, 1 Corinthians 11:24, Luke 22:19, Mark 14:24, Matthew 26:28. The fly on the wall moment must have been when he said the following and I am surprised the disciples didn’t run out in terror, John 6:51 or John 6:55. Emotions had to be at a peak and for the disciples there had to be this sense of betrayal or fear, these men who followed Jesus and by the way to avoid being sexist, Jesus had many female followers even if there is not a book named after them.

There is a topic that for many is not a pleasant topic to discuss, and I will give the disclaimer here that even at times it is not something I would like to talk about at the dinner table as Jesus did with his disciples. Death for many is that topic for so many that makes us cringe, when people take their last breath, there is a sense of uneasiness for a moment, for others it is painfully excruciating but one universal truth is evident that death is not a means to an end but in fact offers beginning. St Francis of Assisi stated in a prayer that it is in dying we are born to everlasting life. For the disciples dying was not a pleasant topic but to see their spiritual leader and teacher make such statements had to make them think I suppose, wow we got fooled. While Christ was on the cross, even religious leaders stated if you are God come down from that cross and even the criminal stated, save yourself and us. So why didn’t God save himself from the pain and agony?

God taught humanity a critical lesson that at times seems to be forgotten at times, the gift of humility and surrender. Yes we are forever grateful that Christ died in his love and affections for humanity, sometimes people don’t really embrace that enough quite honestly. God becoming human flesh to die a cruel and agonizing death out of love for us, a love to forgive us indefinitely and by offering himself for us, thereby offering an invitation to experience “the bread from heaven”, “The living water”, the passion that never ceases a passion for all people, a passion and love that never perishes. St. Ignatius said it best, "I no longer take pleasure in perishable food or in the delights of this world. I want only God's bread, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ, formed of the seed of David, and for drink I crave His Blood which is love that cannot perish."- St. Ignatius of Antioch

In the beginning we read in the Genesis account, God created from the animals, to the oceans, to the plants, to the raw elements that support life. God even gives testament of himself regardless of our religious affiliations; God allows us to search it out and not have to be constrained to a bible or a church or even a religion or denomination. When we look at creation can we not be helped but have a weakness for it, to want to just bask in the glory and wonder of it to connect with it, when we interact with creation, we interact with God. God has painted us a beautiful portrait of all sorts of things, is it any wonder why Jesus told creation parables and used metaphor when describing himself often times. The greatest concept is that God is living and he is not dead and just a mystic of 2,000 years ago or just a long haired blue eyed guy with sandals but God is interactive. For many in the realm of education, to learn is to interact, to interact is to experience and to experience is to truly grow. The reality is that God made all of creation but within creation there exists a breath. A breath of fresh life giving resources, the water providing the quenching of thirsts and survival of life itself, how spring rains come and give life to the plants and trees, to soak up the grace of their creator. The grass and herbs providing vital nutrients and resources for life to prosper and the story could go on and on from the birds singing, the wild beasts roaming plains, bugs, reptiles, amphibians no matter what it is, all of creation seems to possess a breath of the soul, a connection to the divine a connection to life. As humans being we have a living breath inside of us, a breath of energy that requires nourishment. Humans are indeed spiritual beings and we need to have “soul food” that can only come from creation, can only come from a loving interactive creator who is to be pursued day and night, like the deer pants for the brook so our soul shall pant for God.

We must take time to engage the spiritual realm and feast on “soul food” during Eucharist we connect to the mystical presence and experience God feeding us with spiritual food and drink and it nourishes us but how much more so the nourishment from “soul food” when we realize that the breath of the soul is God himself, calling to engage us for there to be an interaction and an experience that transforms us. God provides this awareness we refer to as the conscience and it is a call for us to come to an awareness and by doing so we can begin to spiritually experience the richness and fullness of our being and the way we look at creation, the animals, the birds, bees the flowers and trees isn’t just a teaching about “the basics” or the talk we had when we were kids. Interaction with the breath and feeling that purest form of the soul that we were designed to crave begins to change us completely and to that I say Amen.

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ESSAY REVIEW

I don’t belong to the group of readers to whom you could reasonably address such an essay, so I’m not going to address its content directly. There are also very many grammatical errors, which I also don’t address, but I encourage you to proofread once you’ve reviewed the rules of punctuation; in particular, look up “comma splices” and “run-on sentences” (there’s a good overview at Purdue’s Online Writing Lab: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/598/02/ )

Instead, I will focus here just on the organization of your essay, which I think it would be easiest to do in a manner that is a little more prescriptive than I usually would like it to be.

Generally, I think your essay ought to start off with your reflections on real food and build up to the concept of spiritual food. In a way, that's exactly what your essay does, but it already introduces the concept of "soul food" in the beginning, and it's already obvious there that you have in mind something more than "chicken soup for the soul." I would leave words like "soul" and "faith" out of the opening paragraph, in other words. Do that, and your essay has a clear message, a clear story to tell: “We like food, we make an occasion out of it, it's good for family and so on. But look, there's this other kind of food that nourishes another aspect of our existence." Your essay, in other words, will have a purpose.

The tricky part of course is how to go about building up to this spiritual nourishment. In this respect you start off well. The thought of food leads naturally enough to the thought of the table. That thought leads readily to the importance of the table in the Gospels. Up until this point the progression of your narrative seems logical enough, so it’s easy for your reader to keep track of where your story is going. But after that, I think you lose your way a little, which means you lose your reader a little too.

The stuff about Jesus' radical sayings, for example, seems like a distraction to me, and it's not helped by the dearth of direct quotation. If you want to make a claim about the significance of a piece of text (whether biblical or not), quote from the text, not just the page number, or the chapter and verse; explain what happens in John 6:51 for instance. (This is especially important if you what you are writing here is intended to be a speech; it "sounds" more like a speech than an essay to me.) That said, however, again this paragraph seems like a distraction to me, or at least tangential to the story you want to tell. You don't have any neat transition to that paragraph, or from it to the next one. But if you skip that paragraph (you could perhaps work it in elsewhere if you're committed to keeping it) and go straight to the difficulty of talking about death at the table, then you will have a natural transition (i.e., between the paragraphs the precede and follow the one I'm suggesting you omit).

The transition to the paragraph "God taught humanity a critical lesson ...," which you accomplish with the question from the end of the previous paragraph, is also problematic. I think you are introducing an interruption in your story where none is needed. I think, in other words, that you want to get as smoothly as possible back from the discussion of death, and Jesus' death, to the discussion of food, which is now to be understood as spiritual food. I.e., the detour through the topic of Jesus' death ought to serve, precisely and obviously, the purpose of getting to this other kind of food. You can even make it patently obvious by just saying what you are doing. "I began by talking about food we eat to keep our bodies healthy, but I've been talking about the death of Jesus because it reveals the possibility of another kind of food ... etc."

From this point on I think you need to keep your readers attention focused on this concept of spiritual food. Talk of creation, our interaction with creation, Jesus' parables about it, the idea of the living God , education, the breath of creation, and humans’ living breath, is all too much to take in before getting back to soul food. I would try to tighten up that paragraph considerably. It's the wrong time to go off on one or several tangents.

Let me finish by saying that aside from the problems with grammar and syntax, and the problems with organization and focus (problems that are not especially difficult to solve if you address them directly), you write very well and so I hope you keep working on your writing.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: tylerstocks
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