In the last week of January/First week of Feb, I went on retreat. It was a week of learning the rhythms of a monastic lifestyle, with Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline together as a community. The times in between were times of silence and individual contemplation, along with short teachings every day on various facets of monastic life. One day, one of our number, an artist, demonstrated her art, and brought supplies that were fun to explore (and I'm still exploring every day....growing in this much neglected part of myself)
One thing we didn't touch on was fasting! ha! they fed us EXTREMELY well, and I ate rich, though I didn't eat any animal protein. But I ate three hearty meals per day.
Now I'm back in "real life" and still practicing silence, still following the Daily Office of Prayer as much as possible (always, Morning or Evening Prayer; sometimes Midday, and once in awhile, Compline) and I'm reading on in the topic. Exploring the lives of people who have made a practice of daily silence, who have delved deeply and sought God with everything in them...and I'm finding that fasting was/is/has always been a common exercise among the contemplatives and the mystics.
Well, Lent is here, and I've already decided no sugar (I have been caught in the Pleasure Trap ever since my retreat, and have indulged in Junior Mints almost every day) but I'm also considering drastically simplifying my meals, to just a serving of grain and a vegetable twice a day.
I want to be careful not to treat this as "bad body! bad! no rich food for you!" but as a way of bringing my body into alignment with what my spirit is craving. There is also some value to simplifying meals, so that I have less distractions and can pursue the Lord more single-mindedly. The discipline will be good for me.
It needs to be every day, like my practice of praying the daily office, or my time in silence before the Lord, which is every day, morning and evening. If I only do the spiritual discipline of silence or prayer now and then...there may be some relief from the hustle and hassle, and I may gain a time of breathing and peace for the moment. But making it a daily practice brings it within, so that I know what silence is because I've practiced it; I know how to pray, because I've spent time praying...what if I discipline my body, so that I know what it feels like to deny myself and take up my cross?
What if I place my plate of rice and salad greens before me, and take a bite with gratitude in my heart for the abundant blessing God has brought me? What if I slowly eat, savoring the flavors and allowing time to really taste it? What if there are amazing subtleties of flavor within the rice or bread, that I can now notice, because I'll be eating with a mind focused on what I am doing?
Well, anyway. That's my chosen discipline for the season of Lent. May God be with me in it. Amen!
The important thing is to make these choices one day at a time and the rest follows. If I do the right things, I don't have to watch the scale or agonize about whether it will work.
I heart my endothelial lining
by red squirrel