Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gratitude 6: That first sip.

***Disclaimer:  Somehow, this post keeps getting away from me.  I started out wanting to write about the feeling of fasting that I experience each month.  But I keep self-editing and worrying that I sound like the hypocrites we read about in the bible who tout their righteousness for all to see.  Ugh.  I hate touting anything. I hate the thought of sounding a - flippant about something that is quite close to my heart or b - self-righteous/holier than thou.  Is it better to find something else to write about?  Or do I press on?  Obviously, since you can see the rest of   this post down below, you can deduce that I kept on with my post.  But as a disclaimer: this post is not intended to be any more or any less than it is: gratitude for something I feel internally.  There aren't words to adequately describe this feeling.  But I'm going to try.  So hopefully we can still be friends when we get to the end.****

The first Sunday for Mormons means fast Sunday. And whether or not you participate (there is no quiz, or box to check "Yep, I'm fasting today!!" on some roll somewhere), you do it or don't and keep quiet about it either way.  (Unless you decide to blog about it.  I promise I'm not trying to toot my own horn. It would be off-key at best, me thinks, if I did.)

Fasting wasn't big in my house growing up. The only time I ever fasted in front of my family was the day I got my patriarchal blessing.  So, one Sunday in thousands isn't really good odds in learning how to keep this aspect of Mormon life.  Later on, when I was married, I was glad when I was pregnant or nursing because it meant I didn't have to feel bad that I was well fed on the first Sunday of the month.

But a few years ago, I started to feel like I should try it out.  While I had most of the mechanics of fasting worked out by then, I was terrified of telling Shane.  Not that he would care if I was forgoing food, but it's just awkward for me to try to explain. He was cool with it; like most things, I worried far more than I needed to. 

Now it's been a few years. I can function on fast Sunday almost as well as any other day (which is debatable whether that is good, but it's good for me!)  I struggled with caffeine withdrawal the most for the first few months.  Forgoing food was one thing; Dr. Pepper was quite another.  But I even beat that horse in 2009 when I gave up soda for Lent. And while I'm currently drinking soda, I can handle not having it a lot better than I could before.

On fast Sunday, I always skip breakfast and lunch.  I think the hardest part of fasting is not having drinks.  The liquid gets me every time.  Like when I'm brushing my teeth before church. How easy is it to talk a gulp of water while rinsing?  It's almost involuntary.  Or forgetting and making yourself some hot chocolate, like I did this morning.  I would never have forgotten and made myself a bagel, but the drinks are an easy place to mess up.  (I got so far this morning as to sit down at the table with my hot chocolate only to remember moments before I drank some.  I almost cursed my remembering. But fasting isn't something you can do with a bad attitude if you want to have a good day.  And I don't like cheating...what's the point in that?) 

But for all of my being okay with the fasting, I do love that first sip of something cold when it's done.  It's like a little party in your mouth to celebrate all the drinks you've missed all day.  In addition to a tall glass of icy cherry limeade punch, I sat down to a dinner of barbecued hamburgers, brown rice, and pasta salad.  I had made an apple cake for dessert that I could not wait to break into.  Apple cake is the perfect taste of Autumn; it is cinnamon and apples and walnuts and caramel topping perfection. But even more than the yummy food, I was grateful for the feeling that fasting brings.  It's a little like finishing a difficult run; knowing that you can master your body for a sustained amount of time when your nature is screaming against it - it's a good feeling.

So, do you dread fast Sunday?  And more: do you shy away from reading and/or writing about spiritual topics?  The whole time I've been writing this, I keep trying to spin it away from sounding...churchy.  Cheesy.  Hypocritical. Why is it so hard to write about some topics?  Is there a good way to do it, really?


Amy Sorensen said...

Oh. My. Heck! You were writing this post about fasting at the same time I was writing in my journal about...fasting! AND! We had brown rice for dinner tonight, too.

Spooooooooky! ;)

I agree, though: the first tastes of liquid and food on fast Sunday are wonderful. AND, it IS hard to write about spiritual matters. You did well here!

Melanie said...

I totally get what you mean. I feel like even talking about fasting is bragging or I have anything spiritual to brag about. But it does feel really good to get through it and then to make the choice to end it. I broke my fast yesterday with chocolate and felt a little unrighteous. Really, I couldn't wait until after dinner? Oh well.

Oh, and as for your apple cake, I've been dying to make it. Can't wait until I get the chance!

Ginger said...

I have a hard time writing about spiritual things. Really. Not reading about them though so if you have something to say then...say it!

Jeanette said...

I think, at least for me, it's hard to write about the gospel because it's opening up that sacred part of ourselves to condemnation and criticism.

Although some people may not think so, and my church attendance is certainly contradictory, I have a very deep faith in what I believe and for me to open myself up and share that is scary. That part of me is special and I don't want anyone to be able to attack that part of me. It's the inner part of me that I hold the closest to my soul.

And lately I have learned that to open myself up in any way is to leave myself vulnerable. That attack comes from directions you never expect, and while I will defend my faith to the death, I don't like confrontation and it's easier to just wrap myself around the most vulnerable parts of myself, like a fort. I want to live my faith, not defend it, and Mormons don't have the best track record for just being accepted for who we are.