March 5, 2013

Slow Fast Moments

We are fully into the Baha'i 19 day fast.  Call me crazy, but I look forward to the fast all year long.  When it's done, I feel so good that I wonder why I shouldn't just keep going!  But of course, I don't.  Funny, the other day I hopped in Joe's truck to go to the grocery store and when I turned on NPR, a guy said, "It's amazing, and you never want it to end.  But you have to.  Your body needs the break.  You need water.  But it's such a spiritual experience."  I thought Wow!  There's a Baha'i on the radio talking about the fast!  Um, no.  It was an opera singer talking about whatever show he's in right now.  LOL!  But every word he said is how I feel about the fast.  I suppose ther eis something musical about it.  Once a year, I do something for 19 straight days that's hard and requires vigilance (it's crazy how easy it is to mindlessly pop the crust from the kids' sandwiches in my mouth without even realizing!) and at the same time it's satisfying and nourishing.  And to know that Baha'is all around the world are working on themselves in that same way is such a beautiful bonding experience.

A few years back, I found this photo blog called nineteen days.  And apparently they ask Baha'i photographers to take pictures at sunrise and sunset during the fast and say a little something or add a quote. It's a beautiful blog.  They turned the first year's blog into a photo book, which I would love to own someday.  There's a quote by the great Sufi poet, Rumi, atop the blog today that says,

“There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less.
If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.”

Isn't that just perfect?  And so true.

Anyway, I'm no photographer, but those morning moments seem so sacred and special that every now and again, I feel inspired to snap my own picture.  I remember the first fast that I took a morning photograph and it was of my veggie omelette spilled across my feet in the dark living room.  I was half asleep and clumsy, and that photo seemed to embody my first fast.  That was three years ago.  But now it's just a time to relax, slow down, and savor that feeling of something amazing coming my way.  This morning, as I finished my cup of coffee and my steel cut oats with blueberries and chia seeds, I glanced out the window and the scene was so beautiful.  Such a perfect image for my first day of this year's fast.  


The evening moments when we break fast don't seem quite as magical.  It's almost sorrowful parting with the  intensity of the fast.  I have yet to feel motivated to have a picture of the sunset.  Maybe I should be viewing that moment as God's grace to us, a gift of respite after a day of sacrifice.  Maybe in another 3 years I'll feel that way.  Right now, it's just the end of an intense day and a return to the ordinary.  Nothing remarkable about that.  Someday, when our kids are at a more mellow age and I can sit and feel prayerful in the evening, maybe that sunset moment will feel more cherishable.  But for now, it's the morning moments that are slow and savored, that are full of anticipation.

Happy fasting, friends!

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