this spring we decided to try to observe lent. i am not catholic. i am christian among other things. i had never celebrated lent or easter beyond giving up something superficial and going to church on easter sunday. i have studied the easter miracle but never very deeply. so this year we committed to a practice and doing readings. i’d like to share some reflections on this year’s lent.
i fasted. just one day a week, I fasted. sometimes for only twelve hours, once for twenty-four. i learned that hunger is not urgent. it will come and go. when i am hungry, i do not have to eat right away. one or two missed meals is really nothing when we live where i live, food is literally at your fingertips. especially in the spring when there is food even as i walk through my backyard. i let the grass grow and my yard becomes a meadow with several edibles even in the flowers and weeds.
fasting was also a great way to exercise the senses, which is, i think what spring and easter is very much about. during the fasting times, i noticed smell most of all. each time i watched someone eat or imagined eating myself, palate would closely examine what flavors exist. really the excitement came at the breaking of the fast. sugar almost hurt me with its sweetness. the feeling of food passing into the stomach was one of ecstasy.
fasting also become very much about faith. we spend a lot of time figuring out where or next meal will come. faith in a fast is to know that you will be provided for. one of my favorite authors says “there’ll be rain if god wills it”. there will be food too. we will be provided for. this is a difficult lesson in our culture of overindulgence, convenience and material gain. we spend a lot of time worrying and figuring how to make happen that which god has all ready seen to.
fasting was a small thing, a small practice but i was amazed how such a small thing showed me some big lessons. lent has become for me now, a time to change your patterns, step off the path for a moment and look at things differently. in a larger sense, to break something off so that something new can grow.