Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday Reflections on Fasting

I decided sometime back in Lent that I wanted to try fasting again. Real fasting. Like not eating for an extended period of time. (ACK!) At first I had decided to fast from after the Good Friday service at my church to Easter morning. But then, my friend Heidi called and wanted me to go to a Jon Foreman concert with her at the Service Station, a local coffee shop and concert venue. I definitely wanted to go, as Jon Foreman is a phenomenal solo artist (after leading the band Switchfoot for many years), but fasting didn't seem very compatible with a concert. Least of all, my stomach rumblings might seriously distract the other concert-goers. So, instead, I've been fasting from about 10 a.m. on Friday until now-ish, 3 p.m. on Saturday. Whenever I finish writing this post, I'll eat my fast-breaking meal of spinach salad with sliced radishes, golden raisins, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Yum!

Fasting has made me realize a number of things. I hope you don't mind another list. :o)

1. I use cooking/baking as a means to avoid doing the things that I should do and want to do, but also don't take as much time to do as I should, such as reading, journaling, praying, cleaning, blogging, e-mailing, etc. When I came home from the grocery store at 10:30 this morning, I sat myself in my favorite living room chair and almost haven't moved since then because I've been reading, blogging and e-mailing. It's been great! When I'm cooking and baking, there's always something else to do...more dishes to wash, more baking time on that casserole, more sorting through my chest freezer to find the ingredient I want. But I've lately felt a driving need to just plow through the growing stack of books in my room, to journal and self-reflect, to take the time to pray for others. To attend to, I guess you could say, the things of life that are like oil and gas to a car. The things that keep us running.

2. Food is as food does. Several times in the past two weeks, I've been so hungry before a meal that I get snappish and mean. I've also gotten into a habit of eating too much and thinking about food/cooking too much. It's definitely my main-stay hobby. There's no doubt in my mind that food is gift from God. But it has its place in the hierarchy of importance. If my eating and cooking causes me to neglect time with God or with others, then it's become a disordered love (as St. Augustine might put it).

3. Ironically, fasting has made me realize how much joy cooking, baking, and eating bring me. I really do use food as a means of loving, encouraging, communicating with, and caring for others. Serving people home-cooked meals, both impromptu and planned, delivering baked goods to work, eating my own creations, trying to be a good steward of my resources (both money and food), etc. are life giving to me. On Sunday, I made a whole wheat pizza with pesto that I had frozen from last summer, the last of my Monterey Jack cheese, asparagus (which is now in season and which I am trying to eat a TON of), broccoli, and wilted spinach. It was delicious! It gave me great joy to cook and eat the pizza that evening and enjoy it through the rest of the week.

4. Fasting makes me realize my frailty, how dependent I am on others and on God. As I was walking down the stairs in my house today, my legs were quivery. My hands are not quite steady. After missing the first meal, my thoughts weren't entirely clear. It's an infinitely good thing that God has made us so dependent on things and people outside ourselves or else we might be tempted to pride and independence more than we already are. Tomorrow, I'll enjoy a lavish Easter dinner with my mentor and her husband and seven others. I will provide the potato casserole. Dottie will provide the ham, asparagus, yams, and rolls. Stacey will provide the dessert. This meal in which we sit down to celebrate the amazing LIFE that we receive in the Resurrection will also be a testimony to our interdependence.

5. Fasting has made me thankful. In light of the super-abundance of Easter in which Christ lavishes forgiveness, new life, and freedom on us, I realize that my life is a continuous witness to the grace of God.

A blessed Holy Saturday to you as we live in the tenuous in-between of Christ crucified and Christ risen. Easter is on its way!