So, being utterly exhausted, I didn't get to my blog last night, so I'm combining day 8 and 9 of my journal on today's post. Yesterday was the end of the first seven days and the beginning of reintroducing food. This was a good thing because around lunch time I was totally ravenous, which probably meant my body was really ready to eat. So, I had a banana in the afternoon and it tasted great!
I was really craving a Honeycrisp apple, which is my favorite. I had one of those around lunch time today and it really hit the spot.
I'm definitely ready to start eating again. The difficulty with fasting is that it teaches you lessons about yourself, good and bad. The good is that it teaches me to be more mindful about what I'm eating. The bad is that I have to do so much thinking about it that I see how thoughtless and gluttonous I have been in my life around food, how the abundance of American life has taught me not to be thankful but to take all these good things for granted.
Today was like having the noonday demon all day. I'm probably just physically exhausted and but today was tricky. I didn't do as good a job praying my way out of my funk as I would've liked. The noonday demon was strong today.
If you don't know what I'm referring to, the noonday demon is an old foe of mankind. A monk named Evagrius from Pontus described it this way, and this demon is not one who only attacks monks but all of us at some point.
"The demon of acedia, which is also called the noonday demon, is the most burdensome of all the demons. It besets the monk at about the fourth hour (10 am) of the morning, encircling his soul until about the eighth hour (2 pm).
First it makes the sun seem to slow down or stop moving , so that the day appears to be fifty hours long.
Then it makes the monk keep looking out of his window and forces him to go bounding out of his cell to examine the sun to see how much longer it is to 3 o’clock, and to look round in all directions in case any of the bret...
I broke my fast today, though not because I intended. I got in one of those situations where food was kindly offered to me and to refuse would've meant offense. And so, in the spirit of the Church's stance on hospitality (and common courtesy) I ate some food... tacos to be more precise. Yes, they tasted delicious for a few minutes. But let's make one thing perfectly clear - you don't break a five day water fast on fast food tacos!! My body absolutely hated me the rest of the afternoon.
It wasn't only my physical internals that were grumpy with me. Emotionally I was really frustrated about it and was starting to feel like the whole endeavor was pointless again. Then I read the quote in the image above from St Nektarios and I understood that it was my pride flaring up.
You see, I didn't even fail at fasting. In the Orthodox Church love always comes first. Without love we have nothing, and that is true in fasting as well. So if fasting is going to ge...
Today was a really good day on the fasting front. I was not very bothered about not partaking in food at fellowship, although it did look really good. I'll chalk up this win to the grace of God given in the Liturgy through the Eucharist.
I am deeply thankful for the gifts of the Liturgy, but it isn't exactly a graceful or powerfully Divine experience when you are wrangling half a dozen children. One of the difficulties I normally have in Church is distraction, especially in the pew. Praise God that His gifts are present even when my mind isn't always there.
We can also be helpful that we are not alone in this endeavor, and that many fathers of the Church have great advice for dealing with this problem.
St. Isaac the Syrian has this to say:
"Do not seek... to pray without distraction and so stop praying to cleanse your thoughts first. Rather, persevere in prayer, and out of perseverance... thoughts will be cleansed and distractions will withdraw... If you insist on not pr...
Today was a pretty good day, I feel less fatigue and soreness generally. The evenings are difficult because a lifetime of practice has taught me that the evening meal is the most social one, so, not eating is difficult emotionally instead of physically.
Fasting brings a clarity to the mind that I don't otherwise experience. Those who have fasted before know what I mean. Clarity of mind allows us, I think, to focus more on preparing ourselves for anything, but specifically prayer.
I never thought about preparing myself for prayer before I started reading Orthodox writers. Prayer was part of preparing myself for ministry and worship and the Eucharist, which is appropriate of course. But preparing myself to pray wasn't something I had thought of. According to St. Ignatius Brianchaninov we prepare ourselves to pray when we reject resentment and condemnation of our neighbors and realize our own sinfulness. Basically, if we actually stop blaming others for our problems and actually lo...
I decided today to start a fast. My goal is to make it the whole month. I aim to do a water fast for the first week and then continue to water fast on the Church’s fasting days the rest of month and eat only raw fruits or vegetables the rest of the month.
Why am I doing this?
Food is tied up with a lot of spiritual demons and fears for me. Some people might have a hard time understanding that, but I didn’t have a very disciplined way of eating growing up. I have had, to this date, a typically unhealthy American diet of too much fast food and indulgence.
One of the first times this problem really struck me as a spiritual problem was in seminary when one of my professors was preaching in chapel on John 6:25-40. The homily was about Christ as the daily bread of the believer. He said the crowd expected a feast and He called them to a fast. At the tree in the garden of Eden the devil awakened in Adam a desire for a feast without a fast. At the tree of the cross Jesus finishes and...
A question about my previous post was received from a reader via Facebook.
"Could you perhaps elaborate on the ways in which the Lutheran toolbox for pastoral care is lacking? That has not been my experience, and I would like to hear in what respects it was yours."
My answer to this is relationship. Lutheranism inherited and never really developed beyond a juridical view of things.The Western model of forensic justification (which is the primary model in Lutheranism) leaves no room for healing broken relationships. Faith has been turned into a judicial system instead of being a mercifully just relationship.
There is no room for friendship in the court of law. You can say comforting things to someone who is undergoing a trial, but you can’t really do anything to make the situation better. They’re in the midst of a system, a set of rules, that can’t simply be rewritten. A relationship is a totally different situation. In a relationship we have much greater power to...
Well, I thought it was time to talk about some more of the benefits from this Facebook Fast. I finished a book! I would have finished it anyway… but it would have taken me much longer. And I think I will even get through two books this week. What else is there to do when you are nursing and you don’t have Facebook? Reading is something I definitely need to be doing, but I get a lot less of it done if there are time wasters available on the interwebs.
Blogging! I have been blogging daily! Which is really what I want to be doing… it’s just hard to find the time. But without Facebook? Not so bad I’d say. I’ve also been able to read other blogs. I’ve found posts like this one. Stories that will break your heart… My passion for saving orphans has never left, but as I readjust my priorities it is being rekindled. I dare you to read Kori’s Story. Go on, click on the link and see if God does not move your heart.
What if one of those children in an institution is yours? What if...
I guess some days you just don’t get anything done no matter how little you get on Facebook! Having two kids will do that I suppose…
I am not having too much trouble missing Facebook. It’s actually quite liberating. I only had once today where I really wanted to check it, but I got over it pretty quickly. I am finding other ways to waste my time online… adoption blogs… hmm… I think I will need a little bit more than just blocking Facebook to keep myself accountable for my online time.
The internet is a great tool, and the goal is to make sure it STAYS a tool, rather than me being a slave to it. That is what I don’t want! I will do a more detailed update tomorrow. It’s late… and way past my bedtime.
I have to admit – this hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be! The worst part of the day is the morning and the evening, which is actually very telling and a little sad. I always feel like I should begin and end my day with Facebook. I know, pitiful right? I wake up and I want to make sure nothing new has happened, and I want to double check nothing is going on before I go to sleep.
We have been talking about how to reorient our Facebooking after this short fast, and I think one thing we will have to do is definitely block it in the morning and at night! Something that fuels the Facebook addiction is “I just want to check one more time…” That news feed is awful! You feel the need to constantly keep up with it because – WHAT IF I MISS SOMETHING?!
What you don’t think about is what you’re missing right in front of you, while you’re trying not to miss everything that is so far away. It’s not that it’s bad or wrong to...