A Walmart Advent Epiphany – on Fasting

I’ve been through many iterations of Friday Fasting.  For a while I ate vegan.  Then I decided to skip lunch, but eat regularly the rest of the day.  Then I shifted to just eating a piece of toast in the morning and holding out until dinner.

As I’ve been exploring Intermittent Fasting on my Fierce Days (yes, I know IF has “Fast” in the title.  A future blog is coming, but trust me, it’s a Fierce Day Thing.), I decided to do a longer fast on Fridays since my body has adjusted to not-eating for longer stretches of time.

This has been my game plan for a month now, and I had thought I was in a good place with it – I would be hungry, but not painfully so.  I found the 22 hours of not-eating to be really meaningful, and I loved the moment on Friday evenings when I broke my fast and rejoiced in the food I was eating.  It’s a lovely moment of transition from the week to the weekend, and anticipating the Sunday Feast to come.  It also reminds me of my Jewish family sitting down to Shabbat dinner as they begin their Sabbath.  I love this ritual.

But this past Friday, I was an agitated mess about it.  Rather than feeling a growing space for spirit and prayer, I became fixated on food.  Food here, food there, food everywhere.  “I’m not eating today” I’d say “stop this.”, but I’d mentally note the leftover pizza in the work fridge and the pretzels in my filing cabinet in my office and there was a running countdown clock I couldn’t turn off in my brain.  “12 more hours till food.  11 more.  10 more.  9 more…”  Ugh.

And yet, if I wasn’t feeling calm and prayerful, I was getting a lot of practice in saying “I am fine” when my body was sending me signals that I was *not* fine.  “There is food available to me,” I’d say, “I am provided for.  I do not need to worry.  God has me.  I can let go.”  A LOT of practice.  This was like a really long seminar in saying “I am fine”.

The next day, Saturday, I was Fiercely doing my thing.  I stopped in a Walmart on the way home from teaching a class to pick up a few holiday things.  My list had only four items on it.  I only needed these four things.

But I was unfamiliar with this store, so I had to wander and search and ask for directions not once, but many times, to find these four things.  And as I wandered, I became overwhelmed by the Christmas hubbub around me – the decorations, the items to buy, my fellow shoppers’ stressful hum of energy around me.  If their carts were overflowing, should mine be?  Did we need this decoration?  Do I need this holiday shirt?  Do the kids need these toys?

As I turned into the home and garden section on my quest for an outdoor extension cord long enough to run from our garage to our front yard, I stopped short.  This feeling I was feeling, it was a very familiar feeling.  I knew this sensation.  What was it?

“I am fine” I told myself, and then I realized – my obsession with food the day before, my inability to refocus myself in my Fast Day, this was exactly how I was feeling in the Walmart.  I did not need the holiday things around me, I only needed the four things on my list, and yet my body was worried that maybe I did need more.  Maybe I wasn’t okay.  (Note, this is probably a feeling Walmart et al is thrilled its shoppers have.  It’s why we buy ALL THE STUFF when we see red and green holiday displays.)

“I am provided for.  I do not need to worry.  God has me.  I can let go.” I told myself.  After my master-class the day before, I was really good at it.

I checked out with my four things, and I got back to my car and took a deep breath, profoundly grateful for the practice that had been provided to me in my Fast Day.  I did not know I needed it, but when I did, it was there.

2 thoughts on “A Walmart Advent Epiphany – on Fasting

  1. Danny

    Erika,im deeply imprssed, and I think the serious commitment you have made as a way of letting go aand trusting in God is quite wonderful. You are alteady well on your way, on your path toward Deaconal Ordination….A God given gift… Keep going! And God bless you on thhis journey of Faith.

    Reply

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