I have, in recent years, become a big fan of Roger Ebert. Not so much because of movie reviews, though he does still post them from home, and they are still well written and biting, but rather his personal writing.
A series of surgeries to prolong his life have left Ebert unable to talk, eat, or drink. He has responded by creating a blog in which he… gets it all out anyway. By reading him, I’ve come to be in conversation with a very funny, nuanced lover of life, art, and culture. A spiritual man, I might say, though he has had – and published – long debates with himself about the possibility of God and what God might be for him (if he believed in the same.) He’s a gift.
A reader recently wrote in to ask if he missed eating and drinking. What came as a response is sort of a love song to memory, which when paired with food makes a minister spin and dance. (We mean it when we say: “We remember… Jesus broke bread… Poured the wine.” Memory and meal are our business!)
Look for the line in which he talks about the society of eating, the way we meet, and talk… “feel god together.” That could be a typo! He might have meant to feel “good,” but I hope not, because he has it right!
Eating, as Ebert puts forward, is not so important. Dining, being together, talking, bumping hands over a dish, sharing our experiences around a table… may be a matter of life and death. It is in our communion, I know. And, as he says… through his blog now, he is creating a dining room table: a place to talk, and share, and be together with so many.
Nil By Mouth [By R. Ebert]