“J’ai faim, Papa”

Yesterday I was out for an early morning walk in a neighborhood park. It was quiet. It was fresh and beautiful. I was alone with my thoughts and prayers.

Then out of the blue there it was: a message printed in a childish hand with yellow sidewalk chalk on the walkway in front of me. Enclosed in a speech bubble were the words “J’ai faim, Papa”.  (“I’m hungry, Papa”.)

I had no idea what child wrote those words. Their situation was unknown to me. In any case it was a powerful prompt that got me thinking.

Am I hungry? What am I hungry for?

As I continued on my way through the park, thoughts began to tumble through my head.

I was hungry for breakfast. What could I eat when I got home? Maybe some yogurt and home-made granola, or toast with peanut butter and banana. A cup of tea would be nice.

Then my thinking took a different turn. It was like someone said to me, “Yes, but what are you really hungry for?”

The answers bubbled up from a well inside.

I am hungry for a world where school girls aren’t abducted and sold into forced marriages or the sex trade.

I’m hungry for a world where wives and daughters don’t live in fear of becoming victims of an “honor attack”.

I’m hungry for a world where babies aren’t aborted, where suicides don’t happen, where cancer doesn’t cause my friends to suffer and die.

I’m hungry for just governments, faithful relationships, the innocence of children, and no more goodbyes.

I’m hungry for a life where there is no more pain, no more tears, no more hunger.

Impossible you say. I don’t believe so.

The human spirit yearns for more than what we have in this present life. Desire burns inside each one of us for something beyond what we experience here and now. We are “hungry” and “thirsty” because, if we are brutally honest with ourselves, we know that what we have right now just doesn’t seem to satisfy. And it never will. There must be something better, something more – there has to be!

St. Augustine describes our situation this way: “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him.”

In the midst of all our striving and struggle, our pride and our pain, the Lord is the only answer to our human predicament. Only He can fix our broken lives.

I pray that that little child’s simple words, written on the sidewalk, touched more lives than mine yesterday morning. They express the deepest longing of all humanity.

Those words echo the cry of a famished heart: “J’ai faim, Papa”.

“I’m hungry, Papa”.

I need you. I need you to do something.

Come into my heart.

Send your Son into our world again. Come, Lord Jesus, come!


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