Here’s why I fast:
I fast in Lent as a preparation. Just as one heroic act is made possible by a lifetime of little heroic acts, just as a marathon cannot be safely run without days, weeks, months, even years of training; likewise, if I am going to run the race of faith, dare the foolishness of faith in the decisive moments, I need to have trained in the little daily moments. I need to know how to open myself to God’s grace as I travel little valleys, so that when the Valley of the Shadow of Death comes, I will fear no evil because I will know the God who is at my side.
I fast in Lent for freedom. I am bound by so many things of which I am barely aware. I am bound by consumerism, by busyness, by techno-addiction, by habits of mind and heart that keep me from experiencing abundant life. In Lent I declare with my fasting and by God’s help, that none of these things that keep me bound are ultimate. I declare, with the full freedom of a child of God, that these things do not have to have control of my life. And this freedom inevitably spreads, because I can’t step into my own freedom (however haltingly) without noticing others’ lack of freedom.
I fast in Lent for justice. My fasting during Lent reminds me that Love is what is eternal. It creates a thin place, lifting the veil between worlds, easing scales from my eyes, and allowing glimpses of things as they truly are. When I step bit by bit into my own freedom, I become aware of the ways in which others are enslaved, sometimes by systems in which I am complicit. So freedom, for me, leads to confession, which leads toward justice, which leads back again to freedom. Indeed, is not this the fast God chooses?: to loose the chains of injustice, to set prisoners free, to shelter the homeless, to feed the hungry.
But I don’t just fast in Lent. I also immerse myself in activities and postures that open me and bring me and the world joy. For Christians, Lent is a journey to the cross, toward death, and always in the shadow of sin. But we also know that the story doesn’t end there. Lent is also a journey toward new life that rises from the ashes of the old.
So today begins the fast and the feast. This year I am fasting from Facebook and “yeah, but…”‘s. This year I am feasting through daily prayer / writing around a word (some reflections on which I may post here) and through daily connection with nature. If you are fasting and/or feasting this Lent, feel free to share. It’s always good to have companions on the way!
I look forward to seeing what new horizons God opens to our vision in this season, and I pray this journey’s blessings on each of us and on the whole world.