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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fasting on Ash Wednesday

Like night, as I was watching Kevin Spacey on "House of Cards," I had a couple of Girl Scout Thin Mints. They are the last food I will eat for the next 24 hours.  Somehow I have managed to maintain the last vestige of my orthodox Christian piety, and I will fast (not eat food) on Ash Wednesday. So today, when I woke up, I wished I'd had a burger instead of a thin mint...

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for Christians. Growing up, Ash Wednesday was a big deal. We'd go to church, pray a lot, and not eat (well, when we were really young, we'd eat.) Somehow it was supposed to remind us of how fragile life is, and what our basic carbon life-form is capable of doing (or not doing, as it may be.) So today, I will eat nothing... 

I fast these days almost because I have to fast as there is so much food around me. I live in an oasis of food, and compared to most of the world, mid-town Omaha may be one of the great food oases of all. We have top-flight restaurants, three different kinds of grocery stores, pubs, diners, ethnic food markets, and even a couple of fast-food joints, coffee shops that sell pastries, and a BBQ joint all within 2 miles of me. To not eat around here is to be the rudest of neighbors...

I don't fast on Ash Wednesday for my health. Since I do regulate my health by my diet, not eating does have a cleansing-type effect for me, and that should be good. The extra water I'll drink also probably won't hurt. I also don't fast on Ash Wednesday for solidarity with those who do not have enough food to eat. I understand there is more than enough food for everyone; yet, some get none or very little. As a species we stand condemned on that alone...it is our constant sorrow and shame. But I don't fast for that.

I also don't fast because Jesus did. (I know, you thought I was going to say the opposite. PSYCH!) You know, Jesus fasted before he began his ministry, and it's part of our understanding of who he is. This ring any bells?  Thank you Wilhelm Dafoe for reminding us of how depressing not eating can be. But I don't not eat because Jesus fasted.

I fast to remind myself that I love myself. So often I think so little of how I use or don't use my body. What diseases, dirt, danger, and neglect I often subject my ""body" to in the course of a day. Slam my finger? Shake it off. Run out to the truck without a coat? Tough it out. Not exercise? Hey, don't I have a 5 Guys gift card somewhere??? Today, I am trying to love my body a little more, and giving it a rest from eating and processing food is my gift to myself...In the same way I give myself a break, I hope to also give all those I meet today a break. To not stress them out...to not force them to choose..to be a constant friend and companion rather than enemy or overlord...and then, maybe I can move on to God? That might be a big stretch, but if I can give God a break, and love God rather than hate God today, I will have accomplished a true fast.

The morning is young...and I have to get to the gym.

May your tables be full (maybe not today, though), and your conversations be true.


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