at the table

Come, everyone who thirsts! Come to the waters! He who has no money, come buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price! Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me and eat what is good. Delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear and, come to me! Hear that your soul may live. // Isaiah 55

“‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’   And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,[d] none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” // Luke 14

I see you dizzy and swaying. Your eyes are searching, starved of hope, aching,
your spirit moans
God, I’m hungry,”
instead you feast on the little Debbie’s
we used to sneak out of the pantry as kids,
during the days of cowboys and Indians.

you bury them in the midst of Texas Lone Star aluminum coffins
third drawer down, in your bedside table.
I hear the dead walk at night
whenever you think I’m sleeping,
but I know you’re drinking
and eating
just trying to feel something
but dead things don’t have the power
to make anyone feel anything.

I ache with the pain of knowing that you’re empty,
knowing that you keep taking and filling
like Death who never has enough because it’s not enough.
Brother, you’re hungry.
All the good you keep holding on to
falls through the holes in your hands,
caused by the nails of your own sin
when you hung yourself up next to Him.

I know what you’re thinking-
you’re just too busy.
because really?
who has time to
taste and see that the Lord is good
when you’re a family man, living the American Dream, doing good things.
Brother, can I tell you that good things
aren’t holy enough to carry their weight in eternity?
This walk you continue taking
back and forth to the pantry,
holding the door open,
waiting for some revelation to happen,
as if in the few moments you left and came back,
there could be something new.
Brother, can’t you see?
the food has already been prepared,
so please come sit next to me.

I want you to hear me
I want to tell you my story.
I want to tell you about the afternoons I would fill my pillowcase with those little Debbies because I thought they would make me feel something.
I want to tell you about the months I spent wandering, starving,
wasting away because I was done trying.
I want to tell you that that it is by grace
someone found me crawling around on the floor
pulled me up to the bench,
handed me a two-thousand year old piece of bread,
and said, “here, eat this.”

I want to tell you that I did—and from the moment
those bread bones married mine,
I haven’t been hungry since.

Brother,
I want you to know fullness such as this.

I met a man named Matthew four years ago
standing on the beach
looking out at the one earthly thing that gives us a glimpse of eternity,
And he turned to me,
choking on his words
and the slurs of his heartache’s whiskey,
He said, “I come here every spring break, because I’m tired of waiting,
So I take what the good Lord gives me, and baby girl,
he gave me Spring Break in Padre.”

I gave Matthew an invitation to come and eat,
but he was too blind to see,
turning in circles, stung by what he believes to be
an angry God’s desire to see him hungry and hurting.

I saw him again just last week,
spring break in padre,
walking on streets paved with plastic beads,
and I gave him another invitation
like I do every year
and he used it to wipe the beer from his chin.

This year, I met a boy named Willis
on the same beaded streets of the devil’s sanctuary,
and he shared with me his beliefs of reincarnation
and a Russian orthodox upbringing.
but I could hear his stomach growling, so
I asked, “Willis, do you want to come eat?
There’s a table here, that’s been prepared with this feast—
I promise, you’ll never go hungry.”
after a few days spent on bleeding knees
in prayer for the Spirit to intercede,
Willis said yes,
and he came to eat.

I pray that next year, Matthew will see that
in the midst of the least of these,
like Willis and me,
there’s still room at the table.
There’s still food to eat.

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