Advent Day 19: Fasting Again?

Advent Day 19

A voice cries out:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
   make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  (Isaiah 40:3)

I’m smiling as I post another idea about fasting.  As I mentioned in the last post about this, fasting is not an idea that I relish.  However, I’m still intrigued by the idea of fasting from something.

As best I can understand it, part of the art of fasting is to get us out of routines that are at best dull, and at worst destructive.  It seems that if we have more than enough of anything (food, time) we somehow find a way to misuse the excess, often in a botched attempt to fill some kind of emotional void. 

Marjorie Thompson writes in Soul Feast about a wise old monk who advised a younger one about fasting.   Take in your daily bread, said the old monk, and fast from excess.  The older monk knew that an abundance of food could lead to a spiritual desert.

I remember a college friend who was having a rough semester and sought comfort in ice cream and soap operas.  She often invited me to join her.  I remember feeling a little stress that semester, but maybe I looked worse than I felt!  Looking back, I wish I had suggested that we just talk, or even take a joint trip to the campus counseling center.  Her little dorm room, with its free cable and mini-fridge, became a desert instead of a place of solace and refreshment.

I also remember a couple from my high school who found themselves in a desert.  Both high achievers, they sought relief in one another’s arms during those few hours between the end of the school day and their parents’ arrival home from work.  They conceived a child, and the girl was promptly whisked away to an abortion clinic.  I never knew the story until it was all over, and it made me stop and think.  What looked like every teenage girl’s fantasy (a boyfriend, attention, “practicing” marriage) was nothing more than a dry place of pain.  I became thankful for my “daily bread” of an after-dinner walk with a boy I was dating in the neighborhood.  That was all we could get away with!  But it was a refreshing break and never got us in trouble.

Today, practice having your daily bread, and break daily bread with a friend.  Think about what you really need to sustain you for today.   Try fasting from anything beyond that daily bread, as abundant as it may seem.

Today’s daily Scripture reading from the PC(USA):

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