Don’t fast. Not from love, not sharing a memorable time with your beloved, not opening your heart to each other, talking about losses kicking at your heart, or the difficulties of your days; not from those parts of everyday existence which bring joy, which reconnect.
I will admit somewhat ashamedly that I did not fast from meat last night, a Friday during Lent. For the first time in over half a year my husband and I put down our concerns of the moment by moment care of littles; of money issues, our car reaching 205,000 miles (and that pesky check engine light); of my students driving me up a wall and his clients’ craziness—and we sat, at a table, just the two of us, threw caution to the wind, and talked about all things we hadn’t been able to with joy. We considered the big changes in our lives—the birth of our second little bit, the blending of our new little family, the loss of our beloved Fr. Tom (who we miss now with a keener sting, during Lent). Slightly buzzed from the smooth drink and food more delicious than we’d had in awhile, we let our inhibitions down and made room for each other. Everything in the moment led to our rebooting, to making us more ready to take in, with open arms, the love God has given us in the form of friends and family and the ability, the choices, to be well.
Made me think, this morning, of memes I’ve seen popping about, of bits from Pope Francis about the kinds of fasting that engender authentic inner work, real relationship. The kind of thing Tom always, always encouraged in us. He always said that the Bible was filled with the makings of relationship, all of it leading to the ultimate: ours with God.
So I say, do fast from those things which steal time away from little kisses on warm cheeks, and reading to yourself and to the little one; fast from the junk preservative food which makes life faster; fast from speediness which would keep you from listening to conversation amongst those who seek a better way, who seek not to caustically take down those who would simply not agree, those different, those who desperately want acceptance, love, and understanding. And so many more dos than don’ts. So many more, so much in our creative humanity to tap into—and so much to reject from our lesser sides. I’ll fast indeed—but make it a true inner prayer, and clean out the maladies of worry and anxiety. These have no place in my practice of presence anymore.