I am a sucker for lofty promises which is why, in the early days of the new year, I find myself signing up for a cleanse.

A cleanse promises to rewire cravings. As you detox, your body is stripped of its addictions and your mind recalibrates. No, you don’t need that nightly glass of wine.Yes, you will survive without that third cup of coffee. But before these promised benefits kick in, your entire being becomes hyper-focused. Laser-focused on every single piece of food and drop of water you either deny or offer your body. At times, it is the only thing you are able to think about. As any addict knows, you are fixated on the thing that you crave most.

In the midst of this year’s cleanse, I am between meetings and after-school pick-up. The only place I can think of to wait is the Starbucks in Safeway, which is irritatingly surrounded by displays of chips and candy and dangerously close to the bakery. My stomach roars.

Every patron under 20 orders a venti Frappuccino with 2.5 inches of whipped cream. Two senior citizens eat pound cake. I am nursing my black decaf with a “splash of dark roast” (which, in itself, is a tiny allowance I am making). Surprisingly, joyfully, I do not want the junk food. I am not craving the cake.

As any fast will do, removal reminds you of pure desire. It awakens you to authentic want so often buried beneath coping mechanisms, soothing techniques, and habit. I welcome this awakening.

I have learned that the word “train” in the well-known parenting verse, Proverbs 22:6, is the Hebrew word, chanak.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

In Solomon’s time, a midwife would cradle the newborn and taking her finger, dip it in crushed dates and then rub it on the roof of the baby’s mouth to stimulate thirst. To awaken hunger. Then and only then, with the baby sucking for more, would she place the newborn in the new mother’s arms to nurse. “Train up a child” would be better translated, “awaken your child to desire.”

The baby tastes and wants more, just as I want more healthy food (and meat please), but more than that, as I want more of Him, more of life, more simplicity, more space. Of the Divine Presence, Richard Rohr writes, “Asking for something from God does not mean talking God into it; it means an awakening of the gift within ourselves. You only ask for something you have already begun to taste! The gift has already been given.” (The Naked Now).

You only ask for something you have already begun to taste!

This is curious. Attuned to the various things my heart newly craves, I wonder at their origin. Where did that longing come from? For example, why out of nowhere am I thinking about a new floor plan? One with space to host and entertain. Why after so many years of recuperating nights am I imagining space for others, a use again for all those plates, stacked and dusty, from so long ago? Perhaps I am greedy for bigger and better? Restless and needing a change? Discontent with our house? But maybe it is not my fallenness, but my glory whispering. Perhaps it is a gift within being awakened after a long rest?

Perhaps I have tasted the richness of people I love, food I delight in, and community being created that leaves me hungering for more?

 You only ask for something you have already begun to taste!

I wonder if you, too, have been awakened to hunger and thirst for more? Can we enter in to our meandering wants with curiosity, asking God if those are gifts he has already given? And perhaps instead of casting judgement on our desires, we name them: the imago dei in us, a glory ready to birth.


Beth Bruno is passionate about issues of injustice and a global sisterhood. Often, this looks like curating the stories and work of incredible women and calling her two teen daughters at least once a day to “come watch this.” Married for 23 years, she and her husband share a love for dark chocolate, dark coffee, and bold wine, among other passions. Their son is headed to college so Beth is not thinking about it by nursing an obsession with Turkish hot air balloons and European villages on her Instagram feed.