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Feasting and Fasting

Well, having friends to dinner on Day 3 of my water fast went surprisingly well. I was genuinely excited about the menu we’d prepared and they were curious and completely understanding. My husband cooked a roast chicken and the house smelled like Thanksgiving. I joined them at the table with a big bowl of water with a bit of vegetable bullion mixed in (34 calories). Though I would have sincerely enjoyed partaking in the steamed asparagus and wild rice, instead we spoke of what was happening in Darfur and one of my guests’ recent visit to Ethiopia, which is no stranger to famine.

I also emailed 5000 people on Global Grassroots’ contact list about the fast and was so grateful for some very beautiful responses, including one from a dear friend who has decided to start her fast on Sunday. She has a toddler and has been discussing with her husband how best to explain to him their fast. I shared that I have a family member living with me at the moment, whose beautiful mother passed away recently from complications related to anorexia. I felt it important to discuss with her why I was doing this and how a fast was different from anorexia. I tried to explain that a fast isn’t an effort to deprive our bodies or control our weight out an intense fear of becoming fat or very low self-esteem and deep feelings of unattractiveness. It is instead a deeply spiritual act, driven by a desire to contemplate what we have and what others may not have and feel a greater connection with those who are suffering. Often a personal act of sacrifice to take time away from the schedules of mindless consumption and better understand our relationship to food.

And even still, it is worth bearing in mind the challenges we have with food in this country, from anorexia and bulimia to obesity. Why do we play out our attachments and aversions to self and our life through the act of eating or not eating?

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