I give thanks today to those of my friends and acquaintances who have written to say that they read this blog and appreciate it. My computer is undergoing various agonies of dissolution and it may be that it will not last much longer. If I decide to change computers and get a new internet host I may not be posting for a while.
The boys and I are not eating a Thanksgiving feast today. It is about 70 degrees outside, here in Pennsylvania in November, and that is but the mild and fairly innocuous front of a storm of news lurking in all the corners of this land. I extend my sympathy and concern to the people in the South who seem to be facing a major water crisis. Having grown up in Birmingham, the idea that the Southeast would be turning dry is just about unthinkable to me. But so it is. A few weeks ago I read that the governor of Georgia said something to the effect that we need to better manage our water resources for our own use and for the other creatures who share in this life with us. It struck me, because how rarely do I hear anyone voice a concern for the plants and animals who share life with us, indeed make it even possible.
I extend my thanks to true farmers and to those who are attempting to sustain good practices of stewardship in agriculture, arts, churches, politics, families, relationships and professions. We need to have faith that there are such people. For perhaps never in history has there been such open and flagrant contempt for "the idea of sustaining life." Never in history has the exploitation if not destruction of words, land, people, and traditions and restraints of civility, been so intense -- indeed, lifted up as the greatest success and aspiration. As a headline of an article in USA Today put it, "Why give thanks when you can shop?" I saw it over the shoulder of a fellow-passenger on my train commute yesterday. I hope that it was being ironic. I fear that maybe it was not.
As I say, we are not indulging in a Thanksgiving feast today. Somehow, I just couldn't face the usual shopping frenzy, and the thought of going into a supermarket to get the stuff was just too overwhelming. And do we really need to eat?
That's the question addressed in a book I read recently - called Life from Light: Is It Possible to Live Without Food? A scientist reports on his experiences (Clairview Books, 2007) It tells the story of a Michael Werner, a managing director of a cancer research institute in Switzerland. He admits that he has long been fascinated by the possibility of receiving nourishment without food - from the reports of yogis and saints and the famous story of Theresa Neumann, who only received the daily Host at Communion, with 3 cubic centimeters of water, and living on that for 35 years.
Michael Werner came across a book that had been published in Australia by a "New Age" writer, Ellen Greve, a.k.a. "Jasmuheen," about the "21-day process." Called Living on Light: The Source of Nourishment for the New Millennium, the book describes the process of weaning oneself from food and living solely on light - becoming, in effect, a human plant. Werner decided to try it, and since January, 2001, has been living virtually without food and for periods also without liquid intake.
Describing himself as "Mr. Ordinary," Werner continues to manage his business, play tennis, live and socialize much as he did formerly. His co-author, Thomas Stockli, remarks that "The bewildering thing about him is that apart from having no need to eat, and practicing this with total consistency, he is an 'entirely normal person'...As a scientist for whom life also holds a spiritual dimension, however, he feels it is important to share in bringing about the paradigm change which he feels is imminent.
Once at a lecture Werner gave, he expanded on this in answer to a question of whether there was a Christian basis to living on light. Werner remarked:
"As far as I know the path for humanity at large which is provided by the 21-day
process is relatively new. I can only speculate about its origins and the
reasons why it should appear just now. . . The possibility has appeared suddenly
and could not necessarily have been foreseen. It is evident that a critical
situation has come about in the evolution of the earth. The spiritual world, I
mean the good and positive spiritual beings and leaders of humanity, are
watching planet earth and humanity with anxiety and despair because they see
that the great majority of human beings are unable to break out of a materialism
that is destructive and also no longer suitable for our time..."
Later, in a follow-up question, he also added that during his 21-day "conversion" process (from living on food to living on light) "... I did experience a strong flow of forces from the realm which I, personally, see as being linked to the forces of Christ, and this filled me with joy. I wanted to perceive it more strongly and directly, but instead I slept soundly during the night and only realized in the morning that a definite change had come about. I felt clearly that I was being nourished, and this persists to the present day."
I do not feel called to make the 21-day "conversion" - lest my readers have any anxiety on that score. Nevertheless I do find these reports full of interest, full of spiritual matters to think about and digest. Perhaps it is this spiritual activity of thinking and deepening appreciation that "we are being nourished" that seems important for me to say on this Thanksgiving Day.