As I was contemplating the meaning of 'eternal life' in John 6 I was struck by how we have become disconnected in the West from the source of life. For so many of us we do not till the soil, our hands are not dirty with the labour of producing food for our existence. As I was thinking about this disconnection I was reminded of Henry David Thoreau's Walden in which he describes his attempts to recover meaning in life:
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."
— Henry David Thoreau
There are numerous movements around the Western world, for example here and here, seeking to reconnect people with their life and existence by engaging them in the production of their food. Often these movements are driven by economic or environmental issues.
But maybe these movement are more deeply spiritual than many of us recognise as by living connecting again to the land we discover our dependency on this world created by God and our dignity in communities focused on life with one another.
Jesus words of "eternal life" are not only about some kind of life after death but are certainly also about relationship as he prays in John 17 and about abundant life now (John 10:10). Maybe that is party of the reason why the bread of life metaphor is so important.
Given my current context in a relatively wealthy area of Brisbane I see little evidence of people making the connection with the land and life as elsewhere and even less impetus to do so. I also am aware of low rates of committed engagement with faith and spirituality.
I wonder whether it is in such a context that the need for this reconnection is not simply as an environmental issue but as a spiritual one as well?