I Saw A Hungry Boy Once

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I saw a hungry boy once. Not hungry like a holiday celebrator skipping a meal prior to feasting, or a late night stop for fast food after missing dinner, or even like a well-deserved refueling after a day of hiking or skiing. I mean the life and death kind of hungry, the “I may not get another meal” kind of hungry, the “I need this to live” kind of hungry. It was the essential kind of hungry that I saw . . . the survival kind.

It was the essential kind of hungry that I saw . . . the survival kind.

Like the parched and cracked earth soaking in a long-awaited rain it was a desperation hunger. Like the desire for a beam of light in the pitch darkness it was a needy hunger. Hands gently quivering, eyes intensely focused, a single-mindedness pushing all distractions aside. A thin, weak little body urgently seeking nourishment while fighting to grow and develop. The food was plain, simple, and unappetizing in its lack of color, flavor, and texture but it went down with ease. Each bite on that plate was a priceless treasure and none of it was lost to the table, ground, or otherwise. Coming from my perspective of nutritional abundance and excess, the careful fingers that found every single stray grain of rice was a surprising effort for such a small reward. But what seemed insignificant to me was vitally important to him. What good would a single drop of water do to quench the driest mouth? In my mind nothing, but then I had never been that thirsty. And what good was one grain of rice for any sort of nourishment? I couldn’t say because I had never been that hungry.

I saw a hungry boy once and I don’t think I will soon forget the sight. Among other realizations it made me aware that I had never been hungry myself – not like that.

I still see a hungry boy. Thanks to the miracle of adoption I see him everyday at my table smiling, eating, enjoying, savoring . . . and remembering. He remembers the desperate ache for food, he remembers going without and going unsatisfied. He remembers longing for more when there was nothing more to be had. He remembers what hunger . . . real hunger . . . feels like. He is thankful for each meal, each serving, each bite. Watching him eat increases my thankfulness for the food that I often take for granted.

What is the miracle here? Is it the successful navigation of years worth of procedural and bureaucratic minefields that must be crossed to complete an international adoption? Or perhaps it is seeking out those who were far off and bringing them near, welcoming them as members of a family despite differing cultures, ethnicities, languages, and experiences. Or maybe it is more simple than that. Maybe the miracle is simply the filling of empty stomachs and the cradling of broken hearts. Maybe the miracle is that I get to participate in the simple act of providing food to a hungry boy, an act that seems small to me but means the world to him. Maybe we taste a bit of that miracle with each meal we share.

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