I’ve been thinking about food more than usual today. I started fasting as part of a movement called #Fast4Power. I would certainly not have done it alone. I joined because I was looking for a group of people who wanted to take a morally principled stand of resistance to the bad things happening in our country today. Uppermost in my own mind because of the timing is the inauguration next week as president of our country of a man who brings out the worst in people and who doesn’t really seem to have any principles. He’s a bully who does what we teach our children not to do.
But I don’t especially want to rant. I joined the fast because I am tired of ranting; it wears me out to do it and to listen to it. My Facebook feed is a rant factory. Paradoxically enough, however, I learned about this online and have joined a group of strangers, hoping to be in the company of people who are fasting instead of ranting.
Fasting is a physical and spiritual discipline. It’s a demand, but not mean. It seems to me to be like a form of active meditation, in which I become more aware of what’s going on with me: I am looking forward to the last of the Christmas fudge… The rules of the fast are only during daylight hours, like Muslims during Ramadan. What a snap, a thought to myself: it’s January, and the days are only eight hours. If it’s too hard, I can just stay in bed, right?
But it also gives me a little extra time – no breakfast, no lunch – to be reflective. Food is important to me; it provides pleasure as well as nutrition. Fasting is a little practice in saying “no, thank you.” In being aware of routine and autopilot, of the difference between need and want.
Joining a group of strangers for an online meeting was not as weird as I anticipated (who put the I in introvert? I did!). The group I saw was mixed and people spoke from different religious orientations, which is exactly what I had hoped for. A lot of the talk was about the group effort. I do feel more committed, knowing others are doing this.
I have a picture in my mind of Martin Luther King speaking and acting from a moral center. He is my hero for that reason, and I think he was effective for that reason, and I am not alone in that opinion. It gave him strength. If fasting with a group of strangers helps to nudge the movement for social justice or resistance just a little more toward a moral center, it’s not that hard. The fudge can wait. I can wait.