So, how is your Lent? Are you feeling the JOY that Fr Steve talked about at Mass on Ash Wednesday?
In the last week I have found some joy in fasting. I've been doing really well with no eating between meals. But, I must admit that it is HARD! I want to eat. I want to snack. Yet when I start to ask myself why? Or, am I really hungry? the answer is usually it's habitual, it's situational or even, it's to fill time, a need or a void. By fasting between meals I remind myself that I don't want anything of this world to control me - I want God to fill the voids, the needs of my heart and my life. By fasting and feeling the hunger pains between meals I focus on the person I am praying for that day. It's a good reminder to me to pray. I wasn't sure that fasting between meals would be hard, but it has been harder than I thought on certain days. I think because I am fasting I think about food more.
Another way that I am fasting most days is to skip a meal - typically I eat a light breakfast, a good lunch and then I don't eat an evening meal. I decided when I went to my brother's-in-law mom's visitation and funeral that time spent with family and friends would be okay to free myself from this extra fasting. I agree with our author in The Catholic Table that it's important to fast with the church and feast with the church - a celebration of life is a time of great feasting! The nights that I do fast from my evening meal are interesting, but good none-the-less. I have found that I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. What I miss isn't the food, but the companionship with my sister and her family around the table. Yet this time of not eating I either read or join in conversation with the family around the dinner table, and it is freeing and beautiful too, and it feeds my heart and soul in ways that I may miss when I'm thinking about getting seconds on potatoes. During the evenings I again am offering my hunger pains as a great reminder to me of my prayer. I also find some satisfaction in my hunger and how it connects me with others who are hungry also.
I read on the Bread for the World website that the 21st of the month is the day that most people on the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) often run out of their benefits. I wasn't ready to do a full day of fasting yesterday. I think I will try that next week before the end of the month.
During my time of fasting I keep thinking of how people who are hungry must feel all the time. I may have cravings and desires for snacks, but so many people have nothing. I know how fortunate I am to be in a situation where I can give up food and still be nourished enough to be focused and have energy, where so many children suffer in school due to lack of nutrition and so many people who work, much more manual labor jobs than I, suffer due to a lack of healthy foods to restore their bodies. Even when I am fasting I can eat enough to give nourishment to my body and my mind. My soul is also nourished as I let go of desires and wants. I try to focus on what I need, and finding that to be enough for me today.
Are you trying any form of fasting - fasting from food or other things - this Lent? Share your stories with us!