I've been reading One Thousand Gifts, dragging my pen across the page, beneath endless lines that are likened to something hallowed, wanting to mark each and every curve and line, each syllable and word as remarkable, indelible on my soul. Ann mentions mana a handful of times, the odd substance the Israelites were sent to gather each morning, to collect just enough of for the day. Six days they gathered, the seventh they rested. On the sixth, they took enough for the seventh, but on any other day that they took more, the next morning it was rotted through. Useless.
I have been thinking about mana.
I walked through yesterday in a kind of elated haze. I have been learning to number the gifts, to see through to Him in all the ordinary. It is a difficult practice, these grace legs learning to overcome atrophy, to move forward on their own volition, to make a go of the crawl, the stand, the walk, the run.
There are times in the day it escapes me, when I feel this terra firma give way to old wounds and habituated ingratitude. I slip and the fall comes fast. I'm on my face in the dirt, hands beating against the soil in rage--upset with myself, with others, with God.
Why should the repose of joy be such a trying task? Why should it be so hard to find myself lost with abandon in the midst of His graciousness?
I read the book that day. I read the other books, too. I read the Book. I prayed. More than once, more than just the liturgy. Shouldn't this be enough oil, enough momentum, this inertia of Christian living, to keep me at peace in the moment to moment, in the midst of this absurd stream of being with all its changes, its blend of salt water and fresh?
But my own words to a friend in an email two nights ago rebound on me: We have to look for the mana every day.
That was the trick, wasn't it? The Israelites had to trust that every day, God would fleck the dessert with the impossible unknown. I have to trust that every day, God has so littered my own life. There is mana in the midst of this ordinary, in the midst of this fleeting moment, in the space between this word and that one.
What was it Wordsworth said? "In this moment there is life and food for future years."
Slowly things fall into their place. Isn't my best friend writing his thesis on the Our Father? Do we not ask each time, "Give us this day our daily bread."
Mana all around me, all the time, all of this place is covered with it, would that I only learn to see. Moreover, would that I learn to gather. What good is the mana if all I ever do is muse about its being? No. I must go out of the tent, must bend low, must take just enough for the day.
It will not be enough for tomorrow, tomorrow I will have to go again. But to know that in that moment I have collected that which can satisfy in the future, for I shall look back and recall He did this, He gave, each day, He will--He will!--give again--this, this is grace.
"In Him we move and have our being."
I am learning to move in Him to find Him.
I am learning to look for mana, to trust for mana.