Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Fast: 2011

Day 1 of the Fast has arrived this year, and my tummy is upset. It is, in a word, unhappy. Ah well. What can you do? At least I can be thankful to God that He has allowed us to break the fast for medical reasons.

Aside: I remember when I started my first Fast and went out to get some sport's shakes, for emergencies. I was having some difficulty with my blood sugar levels at the time and wanted to keep one on me just in case my it suddenly dropped. When I mentioned this to Lucki, the woman who introduced me to the Faith, she casually said that I should feel free to break the fast, if necessary. I told her that this was the reason I was carrying the sport's shakes, and she asked me why I don't just have a good meal. "Well, if I'm going to break the fast I sure don't want to enjoy it." She still teases me a bit about that, but, you know, I still feel that way. What can you do?

So here I am, the first day of the Fast this year, and sitting in a coffee shop nursing a steamed milk. With no syrup in it. And no honey.

The woman behind the counter asked me if I really only wanted plain hot milk, and I said, "Yes. I'm supposed to be fasting right now, but my tummy isn't happy, so I need to take care of that first."

This led to a short discussion about the Baha'i Fast, but then some other customers walked in and she had to help them. (Now the place is positively hopping. I'm sure the caffeine has something to do with that.)

But why am I writing all this?

Because it was occurring to me this morning, as I was reading little book, how often I have, in the past, complained about fasting and all the myriad little troubles it entails. I did this, despite all my readings of the Master's life, the history of the Faith, and so on and so forth.

But then my wife, Marielle, went up to Whitehorse and brought back a book for me. Now, I have to tell you, I am in love with the North. (I'm also in love with my wife, but that's another story.) Marielle never quite understood my love of the people up there, as well as the land, but now she says that she begins to see. She said that when she went to give out honey dates at a local soup kitchen she realized that all the people up there had the same sense of humour (or lack thereof) that I do. She said they all reminded her of me.

I guess that's true, in a sense. I've always felt like I fit right in when I'm up there. Even though I still don't like the cold.

Marielle, when she was up there, wanted to bring me back an Ayyam-i-Ha gift, besides the joy of knowing that she was with the Baha'is up there, and serving the community, during those times she wasn't working. She found a book called Two Old Women. It's about these two ladies (the old women) who have been left behind from their tribe during the winter migration, because there wasn't enough food for everyone. They knew that this was part of the culture, but never expected it to happen to them. The story is a tale about their attempt at surviving the alone, with only each other to help and encourage them. It's awesome.

As you know, dear Reader, I don't often recommend things here. I have received numerous requests from different companies asking me to recommend their product, but unless they fit in with the theme of what I'm writing, I just won't do it. I've recommended soap nuts, but only because I really like them, and they fit in with what I was writing at the time. (Oh, and I got an e-mail from the President of the company the next day saying that people had ordered them from my link, and she wanted to thank me. How cool is that?) I've recommended numerous books, and almost all of them have been Baha'i.

This one is not.

But who cares? It is a great little book and I highly commend it to you.

This is not what I was going to write about today, but it is what came across my path, so there it is.

For the past few weeks I've been working on a series of articles about "spiritual starvation", and I only just now realized how appropriate that theme is for the Fast. I've put off publishing any of them until I've finished with the whole lot (it looks like it might be 5 articles). I hope to finish the research on them today or tomorrow and get them written in the next few days.

And on 8 March, I want to publish an article about gender equality. We'll see if I remember.

But for now, thanks for your patience over the past little while as I've taken my time to write something a bit more serious, something that has required more research than usual.

Aside, number 2: One of the things that Lucki shared with me, lo those many years ago, was the idea of dedicating the Fast to a particular idea. One year it was reading The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Another year it was studying the long prayer for the Fast. The time that would normally be spent eating lunch, or snacking, is dedicated to this one focus (or teaching, that always comes first).

This year it is this idea of spiritual starvation, for me. Well, perhaps it is more appropriate to say it is dedicated to how to nurture our spiritual side.

I just thought I'd give you a head's up.

Thanks. And happy fasting, dear Reader.

(I think my tummy has finally settled a bit.)

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