40 days

February 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm 8 comments

I’ve never been very good at following rules for the sake of following rules. Much to the constant frustration of some people in my life, and the constant delight of others. (You can please some of the people some of the time…)

And we’re now 6 days in to the season of Lent- that holy time of preparation for Easter that comes with its own set of rules, some of which make sense to me, and some which don’t. The ones that don’t make sense are mostly the traditions that seem to be directed towards making things miserable and joyless and saying “we do that because of God” and then wondering why some people get the impression that God prefers it when we’re miserable and joyless. But whatever.

I’ve been thinking a lot since Wednesday about the tradition of fasting, in part because this year, I’m more aware than I’ve ever been of the moral element that has crept into general perceptions about food and eating. (Thus the new sticker that went on my fridge door right after the mail came).

Here I am, trying to shake some pretty deeply ingrained ideas about “good” and “bad” foods, and the inherent value of restrictive dieting, and I’m hip-deep in a Church tradition that affirms that there is, indeed, some spiritual value to be found in a discipline of fasting.

And, I was on deck for the children’s sermon yesterday, when the Gospel reading was Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness, I wound up talking to the kids about fasting, and why maybe, there might be some value in following this tradition, other than just because it’s what we do. (If I’m bad at following rules for the sake of rules, I’m even worse at telling other people that they should follow rules for the sake of rules, especially kids). My particular tradition doesn’t have set criteria for fasting- some people observe a daylight fast, some go veg for the season, some ‘give up’ a favourite treat. Chocolate and alcohol are popular Lenten Fast items. I notice nobody ever gives up foods they classify as “good foods”. I thought briefly about a spinach fast, but, mmm… spinach.

I wound up talking about how, sometimes, when things become very familiar to us, we stop really seeing them, or appreciating them. And that by taking away something familiar, we maybe get to see it in a new way, and appreciate it in a new way, and Thank God for it in a new way. Sort of like if you stare for a while at the big gold circle in the stained glass, and then close your eyes, and you see a big purple circle.

So for my Lenten fast, I’m going to try seeing some things about food in a new way.

I will fast from the idea that some foods are good, and some are bad, and remember that God saw all of creation, and saw that it was good.
I will fast from the foods that I don’t really want, but eat because they are there, and feast on the foods that will make me, and my body, happy.

We’ll see how it goes.

So may this be, for me, a Holy Season, in which I learn to see food in a new way, and Thank God for the abundance that surrounds me in a new way, and in which I embrace abundant life in a new way.

However you choose to observe this season, may it be a time for blessing for you.

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Free will- not just for breakfast anymore Random Dumb Luck

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beck  |  February 11, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    My religous beliefs don’t observe Lent, but on occasion we are encouraged to fast. I don’t generally only because my bloodsugar gets wonky when I don’t eat fairly regularly.

    I guess I had never really thought about the real purpose of fasting. I’m glad you wrote this. I’ll be looking at fasting in a whole new way from now on and may now have a chance to observe it myself.

    Thank you!

  • 2. Liz  |  February 11, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I like it!

  • 3. Kat  |  February 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I have personal beliefs that include fasting. My fasting takes various forms also. It is not always a food fast. I think what you are doing is a cool and interesting twist on a fast. Hope it goes well for you and that what you seek to learn will be revealed to you.

  • 4. jamboree  |  February 11, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    My religion practices a regular fast on the first Sunday of every month; we fast for two consecutive meals and give the money we would have spent on food to the church to be distributed among the needy.

    I see fasting as a way to put aside my physical needs in order to draw closer to God, to serve others, and to cleanse the body once a month. It’s not easy, and I haven’t done it regularly for many years due to pregnancies and nursing babies.

    I enjoy it, though. I always fast with a purpose — ie, praying for something or someone specific — otherwise I’m just skipping meals. There is no meaning to it, without prayer.

    It’s definitely a more spiritual than physical thing for me.

    I really like your Lenten fast idea. It’s a worthy goal.

  • 5. worthyourweight  |  February 12, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    We don’t always have to “give up” something for Lent either. I learned a few years ago, it can be a pro-active thing like “I will volunteer two days a week during Lent.” I don’t eat meat on Fridays, though (except fish, natch).

  • 6. atakeo  |  February 26, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    So glad to read your article about lent and fasting. Remind me to my hometown Nagekeo, Flores, where over 90% of population are Catholics, who seriously follow the specific religous practices.
    I like it.

  • 7. Will Entrekin  |  February 28, 2008 at 2:19 am

    Just going through some backlog, hope you didn’t mind. Thought I’d reinforce your note about restrictive dieting; it’s quite possibly one of the worst ideas in human history, straight from Atkins to the Zone. Truly awful, and frighteningly destructive.

    Good on ya for seeing through and making such an effort.

    As for fasting, I’ve done it in combination with meditation a few times. Can be valuable, but one of the abiding tenets of my life is all things in moderation, including moderation.

  • 8. Remember you are dust. « Ad Imaginem Dei  |  February 25, 2009 at 11:08 am

    […] in realizing that I’ve blogged about this day before, I’ve also realized that I’ve been blogging here (off and on, more off than on) for […]

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