I don’t know about you, but right about now I could use a tribe, a group of like-minded folks who want to band together for support on the journey. I was thinking recently about ways to reinvigorate some of my spiritual and physical practices—from regular prayer and healthy eating to more exercise and less distraction—and I decided I’d commit to practicing what I preach and work through one of my own books, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles Food, Self-Image, and God. Then I thought about how much better this would be if I could do it as part of a group, or maybe even lead the group, or at least serve as Cheerleader in Chief.
Cravings is about how we fill the empty spaces in our lives with things we don’t really want or need because it’s easier than facing our demons and living our lives with more attention and intention. Although the book was written specifically with food in mind, the principles can be applied to just about anything: shopping, alcohol, social media, gossip, gambling, TV or whatever vice gets the best of us.
“When we begin to connect prayer lives to physical lives, when we look beneath the surface, we often discover just how deeply intertwined the two are and how our food issues are wound around our spiritual needs and longings,” I wrote in the opening chapter. “We’re not hungry for a carton of ice cream or a bag of chips. We’re hungry for acceptance—from ourselves even more than from others—for love, for fulfillment, for peace. We’re hungry for a life we think we don’t deserve or can’t have, for the person we know we can be if only we’d give ourselves the chance.”
Does any of that sound vaguely familiar? If so, I hope you’ll consider joining me on this journey through Cravings, an internal and virtual pilgrimage that I hope will result in a group of people committed to living life more fully—and more mindfully. We’ll take chapters one week at a time, and I’ll post regularly here. I also plan to do some Facebook Live events where we can “talk” with each other. Over the course of eight weeks, I hope we’ll build up trust and tear down barriers until we have a bond that allows us to move forward individually and as a group, offering encouragement and support, prayers and a listening ear. For those who may live in the upstate New York region, perhaps we can even take the virtual off the screen and make it real, if only for a one-day retreat experience toward the end of our journey.
Starting with Chapter 1 on Jan. 2, we will travel week by week through dieting delusions, feasting and fasting, finding our balance, turning meals into meditations and more, until we end, appropriately enough, right before Ash Wednesday, at which point we begin a journey of a different kind and can segue beautifully from one season to the other.
Although it’s optimal to have a copy of Cravings, it’s not absolutely necessary, if you can’t or don’t want to buy a copy. I’ll be sure to post something weekly on my blog, and I’ll post multiple times every week on Facebook and Twitter, providing a basic outline of what we’re discussing, along with some practical exercises.
We aren’t meant to travel this path alone. We need company. We need encouragement. We need spiritual friends to share the way, but that’s a book group for another season. I can’t wait to get started on our Cravings spiritual adventure. I hope you’ll join the tribe and come along for the ride.
To purchase a discounted copy of Cravings, go to www.avemariepress.com/cravings before Jan. 31, 2017, and use the promo code CRAVINGS, or buy the book on Amazon. Watch this blog for information on the virtual book group and to learn more about mindful eating and living. Follow my author page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MaryDeTurrisPoust/ for regular updates and Facebook Live events.
This column originally appeared in the Dec. 8, 2016, issue of Catholic New York.