Saturday, April 23, 2011

On Fasting IV

Well, we made it...more or less.  I will say that I will probably never become any sort of spiritual athlete.  That having been said, I do think I can recommend the whole fasting least in small doses...

The worst part was after lunchtime.  We were all quite hungry and had to find ways to distract ourselves.  The kids played.  My wife worked and--yes, really--gave some thought to the Good Friday story.  It is easier when you put the whole experience in context, after all.  I wrote a couple of blog posts and got ready for Easter Sunday.  I am using the story from Matthew this year.  I buried myself in the commentaries to avoid thinking about my aching head.  Also, I took time out to read the Good Friday story from John. 

When we decided to do this I wrote what I thought were the reasonable goals for the day.  That is, consideration of our relationship with God, understanding of the suffering of others, and reflection on how we can live our lives more ethically.  The first goal was achieved in abundance (at least for the grown ups).   Going hungry helped us to understand and value the gifts of creation.  The suffering of others wasn't all that far from our minds either.  My wife and I couldn't help but find solace in the limited nature of our fast.  This naturally lead to the question of what it would be like if this was always the way for us.  This is not, obviously, a happy thought.  The final goal didn't work out quite so well, though.  Frankly I was too hungry to think about any great action or plan. 

It should also be noted that there was one unforseen benefit.  We fasted as a family.  Therefore, it became a shared experience.  Was it the same as a vacation somewhere warm or exotic (or merely interesting)?  No, it wasn't, but it was a whole lot cheaper!

In the end it was a useful spiritual exercise and one that may become part of our annual worship life.  For one day we were constantly reminded of the Holy Week story.  This is a good thing.  On Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday I try to remind folks that the resurrection moment implies--even requires--a death.  Suffering is part of life.  The Good Friday fast is an acknowledgement of the the presence of suffering in our lives.

After all of that, we made reservations at a local restaurant and broke our fast together.  Now on to Easter...

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