Oscar Wilde said, "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers." You may recall hearing this line from Meryl Streep's mouth in Out of Africa.
In the first lesson of today's Daily Office readings, the Israelites get the meat they have been craving, receiving boatloads of quail. Some gorge themselves. Many die from the satisfaction of their craving. It's always safer to pray, "Thy will be done" than "Gimme what I want."
Powerful longings refuse to be denied. They occupy our thoughts and determine our mood. Ones that seem healthy (like a longing for justice) are particularly hard to hold at bay. Our brains can't think of any reason to quiet them. But even knowing a craving to be unhealthy doesn't help to abate it. They are like living organisms for which there is no antidote.
The only cure is experience. With experience, we learn that there is only one longing which can actually be satisfied: the longing for God. All the others are either insatiable or lead to disappointment. One scratch never relieves an itch, and the person we thought would make life ideal inevitably turns out to be imperfect. What a surprise!
This is not meant to discourage human relationships nor pursuit of all pleasures. A quail dinner can be a good thing. But if it becomes the main thing, we have lost our way. May this be a day full of sights and sounds that point us to the main thing: our loving and ever-present God.