Fasting is Slowering

Lent is a period of forty days leading up to Easter in which many Christians practice disciplines that nurture the spiritual life. Parents will ask their children, “what are you going to “give up” for Lent? (chocolate? Desserts? Pop? Cell phone? Meat on Fridays?) I didn’t give up chocolate during Lent as a child. I knew nothing about the Lenten tradition of fasting.

Until I was about fifty, I was more likely, as the saying goes, to “take up” rather than “give up” something for Lent.  But by mid-life my activism was starting to catch up with me. I didn’t have any more time or energy to “take up” something. That’s when I began to look into what has traditionally been called the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (giving to the poor).

All faith traditions promote prayer and caring for the poor. In one form or another fasting is practiced in many faith traditions, but never for its own sake. Without a purpose fasting can be just an ego-trip or an empty ritual.

For me fasting is a way of slower-ing and simplifying my life, to give me perspective and compassion.  It can be as simple and fun as eating more meatless meals, like those of someone from another part of the world. (I am not just “giving up” meat, but connecting with people in other parts of the world by “taking up” a diverse and interesting diet.) It is an act of solidarity – “to live simply, so that others can simply live.”

Gratitude Prompt: What are some of life’s simple joys that I can savor today?