Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Friendly old girl of a town
‘Neath her tavern light
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
To wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen

—lyric by Danny Kaye

The last days of Lent. Holy Week. This Lenten practice of mine is coming to an end. I’ll miss it. I have to admit, though, that I will enjoy having two more hours each day to use for other pursuits. (Yes, this choosing a pic / writing an essay thing takes a good two hours; I write slowly and type haltingly!)

The last three photos, Maundy Thursday through Holy Saturday (or Easter Eve), will have some connection to those specific days, but I haven’t chosen the images yet. For today, I found this picture of a favorite city: Copenhagen. Its history is rich, it architecture endearing, and its culture vibrant. And that includes jazz. We took a canal boat ride with a Dixieland band and went to the Jazzhouse to see the Heath Brothers.DSC02823.JPG

The canal area seen here bustled with tourists. Some took in the many outdoor eateries, others waited in lines for boat tours, and lots walked, shopped, or lingered. While the sky is blue in this scene, I remember rains coming in rather suddenly, and Joan and I did the “lingering” bit in the shelter of a restaurant entryway waiting for the storm to pass.

The can of Coca Cola I bought there was 30 Krone, or $4.50. Good thing I didn’t want the double café latte; that was 45 DKK. In any large city, one would expect prices to be a little higher than what we have here in my Upstate New York village. I guess that’s the price of vacationing, right?

Look again at the photo. Blue sky, colorful old buildings, and that nice boat in the middle. But wait. What’s that on the far right? Looks like a protest. Can’t quite read the red banner, but it says, “STOP SULTEN.” The deck is lined with mannequins. In fact, they line every surface of the vessel. They are draped in the simplest of garments, and appear to stare at all of us who pass by.

Even without knowing what the protest or silent demonstration was about, I felt guilty. Boy, that can put a damper on a fun afternoon in Copenhagen. Stop sulten? Being the bleeding heart that I am, I suspected that I would agree with the purpose of the campaign, complicit as I might well be in “sulten.”

Turns out, I am. Complicit. And my guess is that you are too.

STOP HUNGER is what the sign says. Obviously the mannequins represent the world’s hungry millions, victims of what we have come to call at the least “food insecurity,” and at the most profound level, starvation. I have two other pictures of this scene. One excludes the conscience-pricking boat, and it’s a beautiful image of this canal area. We’ve framed an enlargement and it hangs in the dining room. Maybe you catch the irony.

The other image is a full frame photo of that STOP HUNGER boat (see below). I could have used that one here, but I wanted to illustrate the way advocacy intrudes on our comfort, our pleasures, travels, acquisitiveness, our daily routine. This boat is less intrusive, of course, than the panhandler who waits not far from the ATM, or the homeless guy asleep on the park bench. The mannequins are silent, see, and while they may remind, they don’t threaten. Indeed, if I continue to ignore the hungry hordes and starving refugee children, I can keep them silent, until the NBC Nightly News shows me their pictures…at dinner time.

Lent is coming to an end. Many people “gave up” some edibles for Lent. Chocolate. Junk foods. Maybe a favorite drink got put on the list of things sacrificed so that one could somehow identify with the hunger of Jesus who fasted for those forty days.  Far be it from me to judge anyone else’s Lenten practices. Any spiritually enriching sacrifice is commendable, Lent or not. But when Lent is over, so is the “fast.”

Hey, Jesus, my man…you hungry after all this time? You know, that you, being who you are, could turn that stone over there into a scone, or a fat, warm loaf of bread, or into a donut that would soak up that 45 DKK latte! What’s that? I couldn’t quite understand you with your dry mouth and parched lips. We don’t live by bread alone?

But we do live by bread. Some of us. Our bellies show it. Others? The more they hunger, the more they become like the mannequins: silent, lifeless. Do we not all want to overlook that boat there on that Copenhagen canal, amid the tourists, the cafes, the shops?

My problem is that Jesus, having survived the wilderness, the fasting, and the temptations, with understanding, compassion, and deep love spent much of his ministry feeding people. And he taught us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters (for example “stopping hunger”) we do it for him.

The Stop Hunger Fund was created by the Danish United Nations Association and the United Nations Food Programme. (www.stopsult.dk/om-stop-sult.aspx) Among the ways I offer help are the Food Bank of the Southern Tier (New York) and the Presbyterian Hunger Program.(www.presbyterianmission.org/ministries/hunger/what-we-do).

Carry on.DSC02822.JPG