Fasting is an intriguing practice to me. It is not a particularly "sacred" practice. When I am doing it, I do not feel more holy, more in touch with the Spirit, more apt to touch the fingers of God. I can not remember ever having a great Spiritual epiphany while fasting. On one level I approach fasting as a discipline to be practiced, with bewilderment about whether I am missing something that everyone else gets.
Then there is another side of fasting. No, I am not negating the things I said in the first paragraph. The other side of fasting is the battle it creates in me. When I fast I have my obsession for pleasure exposed in open awareness. Like I said above, this is not a particularly "spiritual" exposure. It is a physical reality. As I pass the candy jar on other's desks in my office, I realize how mindlessly I stop and pick a little piece out of each bowl. As I walk into the kitchen to refill my water bottle, I see the nicely prepared fruit trays where each day I take a plate of wonderful sweet nutritious fruit, purchased by my employer and prepared by a few coworkers. I receive the pleasure of great flavor and nutrition at no cost and no effort to me. At home, I smell the wonderful aroma of my children's dinner. I think, "just a small taste of that marinara won't hurt, I'll still be hungry."
Fasting has little to do with hunger pangs for me. Perhaps it is the fact that a "long" fast in my book is a week, so I never really get to the point of real hunger. No, it is about obsession, it is my taste buds that long to be appeased with something tempting. In the moments before I sat down to write this post, I had picked up a bottle of habanero sauce that was sitting on my desk, I removed it's lid, breathed in the scent of it's peppers, and thought, just a dab on my tongue to pacify my pallette.
My reading today took me through the seven woes. I read them in this strange setting I find my mind in. I am torn between an obsession by my senses for salt or sugar and an equally constant obsessive thought process about a friend who I believe is self destructing. It is here where the Spirit speaks to me in these seven woes.
Heavy loads, swallowed camels, white washed tombs, Gehenna's judgement; the terms reorient me to my own frailty and brokenness, as my own addictions for self indulgence beg me for anything sweet.
I do not fast to enter a sacred space with God, except for the space made sacred as I acknowledge we are fellow travelers, and I would be selfish, and self indulgent to not bend over, and help my friend carry his load.
HOLY WEEK PRAYER: Lord God, Expose to me every lie and addiction I harbor so I am free to be fully consumed by you. Let me be active in that consuming obsession by seeing through faith the need to lift not judge my brothers burden. Your Kingdom come, on earth AS IT IS in heaven!
A personal reflection on Matthew 23:1-36
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