Disclaimer: I didn’t intend for this post to be so long, let alone divided into two parts, but I had a few revelations throughout the day. Please bear with me. I’ll keep my updates much less wordy in the future!
Fasting Research of the Day:
When I typed “fasting” into my search engine, I wasn’t surprised at how many dieting Web sites showed up on my first page of results. What did surprise me was that not one personal account of spiritual fasting was listed (but then again, I didn’t navigate past that first page).
Fortunately, the site I decided to research is likely to be more helpful to me at this stage in my quest than a personal narrative would be. It provided me with exactly what I was looking for – what fasting is, how people do it, what purpose it serves, and the verses of Scripture that support those definitions.
The information I found to be the most helpful was actually the section that defines what fasting is not . After reading it, I understand why personal stories about spiritual fasting are not as prevalent on the Internet as I had assumed they would be. A fast is a private endeavor between one person (or group of people) and God. It is not to be used for dieting, self-punishment, or public displays of holiness. It is not about achieving spiritual clarity on behalf of another person, but on behalf of oneself.
I’m so happy I stumbled upon this information. I intend to continue searching for personal accounts of fasting, but my idea of how and why I might fast in the future has been altered dramatically.
I also gained a better understanding for why we celebrate Lent. My mom forwarded an e-mail to me that seems to have been published in an electronic church bulletin. She thought it would be a good tool to use to explain Lent to her grandbabies, but even I found it to be enlightening. Here’s an excerpt (I’d credit the source if I knew where it came from.):
“We all know the story of Cinderella. The name itself literally means the little girl (puella) who sits in the ashes (cinders). The moral of the story is clear; before you get to be beautiful, before you get to marry the prince, before you get to go to the great feast you must first spend some lonely time in the ashes, humbled, smudged, tending to duty and the unglamorous, waiting. Lent is that season, a time to sit in the ashes. It is not incidental that we begin Lent by marking our foreheads with ashes.
We also know the story of a Princess and a Frog or Beauty and the Beast. …….. Again, the moral of the story is clear……. you must first spend lonely time among animals and wild beasts, among your demons, your paranoia, your anger, your jealousies, your distance from others, your fantasies, your grandiosity, your addictions, your unresolved hurts, your faith doubts, and your moral secrets. Lent has always been understood as a time to metaphorically spend forty days in the desert like Jesus and face “Satan” and the “wild animals” and see whether the “angels” will indeed come and look after us when we reach that point where we can no longer look after ourselves.
…… Lent invites us to feel our vulnerability, our fears, and surrender in prayer to God’s loving care…… to fast from whatever feeds our ego and sinful ways; and …… to share God’s love and compassion with others through Charity. Easter, then, will truly be a feast of transformation – the Resurrection.”
Clearly, I did not plan to sacrifice enough or fast effectively during this season of Lent. I’m going to stick with my plans, but I’ll also be thinking of additional ways in which I may surrender myself to God’s will.
Other posts in this series: