Monday, November 02, 2009

Return of the fast

For the uninitiated, let me explain the concept of fasting from food and drink, as the Mormons do it. The first Sunday of every month is designated Fast Sunday. Members of the congregation abstain from food and drink for two meals, and donate the money we would have spent on food to charity. During this time of fasting, we also try to focus more on prayer, so that we're not just going hungry.

The other special aspect of Fast Sunday is that part of the church meeting is set aside for members to volunteer to come to the pulpit and bear testimony of Jesus Christ. If you are ever thinking of visiting a Mormon church meeting, I would find myself torn between recommending you seek out a Fast Sunday to do so, and begging you to steer clear of the chapel on that day, of all days. On the one hand, some of the most heartfelt and sincere testimonies I've ever heard have taken place on Fast Sunday. On the other hand, there are weird people in every religion and Fast Sunday tends to bring the Mormon weirdos out of the woodwork (and up to the pulpit). Let's just leave it at that.

As in the Muslim tradition of Ramadan, exceptions to the fast are made for children, people who are sick, or those who have chronic health conditions that make it impossible for them to go without food. Exceptions are also made for women who are pregnant or nursing, which is how it came about that I haven't participated in Fast Sunday for nearly five years. Yesterday, I realized I was neither gestating nor nursing an infant, so I fasted.

I was a little worried about how I'd do. When you think about it, I'd basically been feeding my face every 2-3 daytime hours for five years. As I went through the day yesterday, the clock seemed to slow down. I wasn't always thinking about what I was going to eat next. I actually got to experience hunger and remember how it feels to go without food. In the end, it was very refreshing and liberating. When it came time to eat again, the food tasted that much better.

While I was pregnant with Miriam, and then nursing Miriam, and then pregnant with Magdalena, and then nursing Magdalena, I did often try to observe the spirit of the fast, if not the law. I'd buy a candy bar on Saturday and then "fast" from eating it all day Sunday. Sometimes I'd combine that tactic with only eating things that I didn't really want to eat, like bread without butter or plain Cheerios without sugar sprinkled on top. Jeremy may have laughed at me for doing it, but it was my best chance at being able to participate in Fast Sunday without jeopardizing my milk supply or making it even more difficult to be pregnant than it already is.

Anyway, I probably lost any non-Mormons who were reading this long ago, but I just wanted to say to Fast Sunday: welcome back. I've missed you. And I'm glad to be a part of you again.

(I've updated the original NaBloPoMo 2009 introductory post with all the participants who said they were in. Let me know if I need to add you!)


Amanda said...

October was my 4-year anniversary of not fasting. Well, I fasted one month between weaning Lillian and finding out I was pregnant. I have two thoughts about your post 1. I'm very impressed at the fact that you MISSED fasting. If there is one thing that I do not have a testimony of, it's fasting... which is probably my own fault. That one month I fasted, I whined and complained and got a migraine. 2. I also try to participate in the spirit of the fast. I try to plan out simple healthy meals instead of just making cookie dough and snacking on it throughout the day, which is what I want to eat on a lazy Sunday.

Britney said...

My husband likes to tease me about my "fasting" while pregnant/nursing, too. Just yesterday he asked me if I was planning to eat my cinnamon roll with or without the frosting.

Katie said...

If I was ever unsure about being the worst person in the world, my uncertainty is gone. My two-month old is nursing, but I ate SO much candy and junk yesterday. If it makes you good people out there feel any better, I do still have a lot of "pregnancy" pudge.

Liz Johnson said...

I never really missed fasting either. In fact, of the two months I was 'eligible' to fast, I forgot once and complained the other time. I should probably try to participate in the spirit of the fast a little more, and see if that helps my lack-o-testimony of the concept.

Nancy said...

The one month I thought I was clear to fast this year I found out that I wasn't the next month. :) Oh, didn't hurt anything.

Susanne said...

"Anyway, I probably lost any non-Mormons who were reading this long ago"

Are you kidding me? I love this kind of thing! I'm always glad when you share things about your faith. It's like an unfamiliar cultural experience, and I really love those things! Thus why I love your posts on the Middle East and Russia and so forth.

When I saw you mention something about "Mormon" in the first paragraph, I was even more intrigued than usual. :)

Thanks for sharing this. What a great thing (this fast)!

sarah said...

it definitely brought out the weirdos in the ward i visited yesterday. that's nice you enjoyed it. i would find it hard not to eat the little ones' snacks :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I find it challenging to fast for 24 hours because I'm always tasting food while cooking dinner in preparation for breaking the fast.

Fasting is an important factor in demonstrating and deepening devotion and humility and dependence upon God. I could do better at it.

As for Testimony meetings, I believe that over the years they have improved in quality. There always have been inspiring highlights, along with too many travelogues and confessions and people getting up just because someone urged them to (understand my meaning; that's not always a bad thing; maybe "challenged" is a better word).

Kat Clark said...

Michael thinks it is time I start fasting again even though I am still nursing Baby Girl. I don't know why but he gives me a hard time about the fact that it's been more than 3 years. I think he is being mean but I also do miss the "something" that fasting brings.


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