September, season of the harvest, conjures images of baskets heaped with produce, grain milled to form rustic loaves, and cups overflowing with sweet wines and ciders. We’re surrounded by abundance, the reward of spring and summer labours; we reap what we have sown, and it will nourish our bodies through the coming year. Gardeners and farmers’ market shoppers say that local, freshly picked fruits and vegetables more deeply satisfy our hunger, but the sweat on the nurturing hand is what feeds the spirit. We need much more than just food and drink to survive.

We’re complicated beings with a wide variety of requirements that need to be kept in balance. Nourishment isn’t just the food we eat; there’s hunger in our minds, hearts, and spirits as well. Pressed for time while juggling work, school, and home demands, self-care is often first to go. But without the balance that comes from putting our own needs first, the most carefully constructed house of cards will topple.

“The hungers of the spirit can be more difficult to satisfy.”

The new school year launches a fresh course of feeding for the mind. Regardless of our goals, we satisfy many hungers here: the hunger for knowledge, the hunger to achieve, the hunger for companionship, and even the hunger for a sense of hope for the future.

The hungers of the spirit—hope lives here too—can be more difficult to satisfy. For some the formula is simple: weekly trips to worship under organized religion can keep their spirits right with the gods of their understanding. For others the hunger for connection, a sense of community, is met by spending time outdoors, doing laps in the pool, or pulling a stool up to the bar.

Feeding body, mind, and spirit includes one other dietary requirement: the nourishment we get from one another. Our closest friends, comrades in the classroom, and even passing acquaintances on transit all feed us socially. The human condition put us all here, sharing this space at the same moment in time. Locked in isolation we wither, but even the most casual and fleeting connections fuel our social selves. These hungers are intangible, less obvious, but still critical elements of our whole selves.

Here on the most affluent continent on the planet, one overflowing with resources, we still see great hungers of body, mind, and spirit. We can all be fed—we just need the right basket of ingredients.

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