March 3, 2010

My First Baha'i Fast

My early morning image

Last year, as you may recall if you've been with me that long, I was pretty disappointed to not fast because of my one last nursling who was reluctant to wean. But the time has finally come. I am actually way excited to be observing the Baha'i month of fasting this year along side Baha'is around the world. It is a time of spiritual nourishment and preparation for the year ahead, a time to set aside earthly desires and shift our focus to those deeper, more meaningful things that feed our souls.

I have so enjoyed, as I did last year, getting up super early before the sun rises to eat a last bit of physical food before the day ahead. I love the quiet and the blue tint cast across the snow and mountains before the sun arrives to lighten things up.

So far, here on day two of nineteen, I have realized that keeping too busy to notice that I'm not eating is not needed. To be honest, I haven't actually felt all that hungry. The beauty of the fast is found in those quiet moments when I reflect upon my day, upon the purpose of the fast, and live in those moments unhungry and wholly satisfied.

Our LDS friends have been super compassionate and mindful of the fast, giving encouragement and even bringing "sunset snacks" like an entire box of Aggie Blue Iceberg ice cream (how cool are my friends?) They fast once a month for 24 hours, which I imagine to be crazy hard not having sunset to look forward to. As I say that, though, I am reminded of all that I thought would be hard about our fast month, of all of the tactics that I preplanned to avoid caving in, and of all of my worries. None of them have been necessary. It has been such a peaceful time. I imagine, now, that our lovely LDS friends find comfort and spiritual nourishment in their fast as well.

Today we hosted a cookie decorating party for our home school girls group and I was so reassured in all of this fasting business when it had come and gone and I had not felt the least amount of longing for one of the cookies. How quickly fasting has become a peaceful way of life rather than a struggle. The kids had a lovely time, and I enjoyed hearing all of the noise and shouting as they chased each other around with energy to be envied. Funny how they have a peace all their own. A noisier, no-care-in-the-world peace.

As we grow into ourselves as partners and parents, our source of peace shifts, at least for me, from not knowing any better about the world and living in the moment, to knowledge that we can provide security for our loved ones. That story about Baha'u'llah as a child at the wedding with all of the puppets in the box...you know the one, right? Well, when I see them so care free and think of my own changing definition of peace and security, I think of that quote.

"Erelong these outward trapping, these heaped up treasures, these earthly vanities, these amassed battalions, this gorgeous finery, these proud and overweening souls-all shall pass into the confines of the grave, as though into a box. In the eyes of those posessed of insight, all this conflict, dissension, and vainglory hath been, and will ever be, like unto the sport of children."

How perfect a thought for my day. All of the physical security I feel like I can or cannot give my family means little. Everything could be wiped from the face of the earth in a moment. It is our spirits, our love and relationships with family, mankind, and God, that are the true security and peace. The sport of children is what I observed today- some bickering and some joyous giggles, some ignorance and some pearls of tiny wisdom. It was all there. It is what we were meant to revel in during childhood. But now in adulthood, it is a time to revel in the true peacefulness that canot be wiped away.

Those are my little random tidbits of fasting insight for the day. Funny how this experience causes your thoughts to meander from quote to quote and causes you to view the seemingly insignificant in a new light.

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