Fasting and Failure

So it is 10:35am and I have already broken my planned day long fast. Well, actually I broke it even earlier. Here is what happened: I woke up and had to parent my toddler. We are “potty-learning.” This is intense business. And I found myself less than loving and engaging in multiple power struggles until I realized I was hungry, and needed my AM cup of tea. So…. I ate some oatmeal and cantaloupe and it tasted really good.  I think fasting may be one of the most complex spiritual disciplines. It stirs up a lot of questions for me, including wondering if it is just an example of a kind of “body-negative” attitude which is so often woven into the Christian tradition. However, I tend to not want to dismiss ancient practices of the mystics, and fasting definitely falls in that category. I also know many who have fasted and found it to be a powerful means of connecting with God and feeling lighter. I think this particular spiritual practice is a good moment to focus on the theme for our centering summer series: experimenting with practices that nourish. Not necessarily succeeding, or knowing exactly what we are doing, but trying on a practice to see how it fits, to see how it works, to see if God meets us in it.

How does one experiment with fasting? This past Sunday in worship we talked about hunger and how rarely we truly feel it. Some members discussed the realization that most meals they eat would be considered a ‘feast’ meal by the bulk of the world’s inhabitants. So we talked about waiting until you experience hunger before eating, each time, as a spiritual practice, which is what I am trying to do this week. I think there may be other ways, simple ways, to tap into the spirit of fasting and I encourage you to experiment with them. Maybe not eating a regular snack, or cutting a meal in half, or eating no meat, or no dairy. Maybe rather than fasting we should talk about this as a practice of destabilizing regular food habits in an effort to connect ourselves to our bodies and to experience gratitude for the gifts of food and drink. I hope that our experiments may open up new thoughts, new prayers, a new sense of connection to others living in the world and to Yahweh, who loves us all, fasters and mothers and believers and questioners and questioning believers.

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