Monday, August 23, 2010


Several months ago, my church youth did a fast called the 40 hour famine. The concept, at least for our church, was that instead of spending time and money on food during those forty hours, the youth would spend their time and money helping people who were "less fortunate". They collected donations and materials, supplies and such, for a month or two in preparation, and then spent the forty hours of the "famine" serving the elderly, the poor, and the homeless. "The least of these".

I wanted so much to do that fast alongside the members of my church, but at that time, I was still breastfeeding Piglet, so I had to skip it at that time ... but I was sorely disappointed. Since then, I have felt led to try fasting, and the desire to do it has become more and more urgent over time.

I am not ambitious enough to do a forty day fast (not sure I ever could at this stage of my life), and not ready yet to attempt a ten-day or even week-long fast. Honestly, I'm not even shooting for a weekend yet. But I'm going to get as close as possible to 24 hours without disturbing my family routine. Tonight we had dinner around five-thirty, so I am planning to fast until dinner tomorrow night. I will try to set things up so that dinner is around five-thirty or six, but I am realistic enough to admit that it might be closer to five, or even four o'clock depending on when my daughters get hungry.

Fasting. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the idea already, and I've only just begun this, the first of what I hope will be many journeys with fasting. I can't imagine the mental clarity and the depth of thought that I might experience in a longer fast, but I hope to someday find out what it would be like. I have done so much research on this topic, wanting to become more comfortable with the idea, wanting to weigh the risks, the benefits. Wanting to find out how others have succeeded, and what their motives were.

So far, here are the things about fasting that have really stuck out, to me:
  • The benefits of fasting are numerous, from giving the digestive system a chance to rest and regroup to the possibility of purifying the body of toxins inherent in our atmosphere and even in our food. The idea of freeing up digestive energy so that the body can focus instead on healing itself and repairing damaged tissues really appeals to me, and I have read many reports of people who actually had improved energy and health after a period of fasting.
  • Spiritually, fasting is sometimes seen as another way to grow closer to God. It can be because you spend the time usually focused on food instead focused on God, or simply because you are fasting as a way of expressing worship ... or repentance. There are many mentions of fasting in the Bible, typically from one to three days. There are a few seven-day fasts. Three times in the bible, someone fasted for forty days. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. I want at least a taste of how it feels to free my mind from "what am I going to eat for lunch" and have more mind-time to focus on speaking with God.
  • Historically, I am a mutt like everyone else, a mix of different cultures and peoples. But I have always felt a strong connection to my Native American roots. A few generations back on my mother's side of the family, we have a strong proud Cherokee woman. On my father's side, Native American blood from other tribes. In my heritage, fasting was part of many of the ceremonies. Young men would leave the tribe before they were able to become warriors, on a vision quest. During that time (generally three days), the boy would fast, he would meditate, he would be alone with his thoughts. He would then return to his people and begin the process of becoming a man, a warrior, in the eyes of the tribe. I am not a young Cherokee boy, and will obviously never become a skilled warrior ... but there are still the other benefits of the vision quest. The peace, the communion with self and spirit. I'd like to explore this.
So I'm fasting. I don't drink much water because I prefer a mix of green and black tea, but since I drink it without sweetener, I am going to use tea the same way others use water during a fast ... I can have as much as I want, whenever I want. But beyond that, I am looking forward to seeing how tomorrow goes. I will post tomorrow night, a play-by-play of my thoughts and feelings during my first fast. I will also note how my body reacts to the "famine", and my impressions of the experience in general.

Any impressions from you readers?