first friday fast… take two

Last Friday was my second stab at my First Friday Fast. Let me just say that when I started this, it never occurred to me how essential fasting was for my spiritual growth. At the time, I always saw it as one choice among many, that while I chose this, I had other alternatives. However, around the two or three weeks after my last fast, I found myself not only looking forward to it but needing to have this experience again. The clarity and state of mind that I attained as a result of my previous fast was unable to make it through the entire month. It was such a struggle to maintain that attitude and I don’t think that I did it successfully near the end. so when the day for my fast neared, I was excited to go through it.

humility

humility

Unfortunately, this fast was not quite as powerful as the first one. Because it is the middle of the semester, I had at least one exam for each of my classes. Not to mention, I was doing some preparation in the days leading up to the day after my fast, which unfortunately, included the first Friday of March. I was too stressed and had too many things on my mind to focus on my spiritual and personal growth. To be honest, I was just trying to get through the past two weeks.

However, there were some key enlightening moments. While I spent the entire day of the fast glued to my Macbook studying for upcoming exams, I was able to use my study breaks for some serious thinking. Unfortunately, I couldn’t commit to them fully because I would have run the risk of losing myself in heavy thoughts and not completing any of the work I had. I broke my fast by having dinner with my friends. One of them, Amal, found out about my fasts and we were able to briefly speak about the fasting experience. It made me happy to be able to share this with her considering that not many people can understand my reasons for doing it. In fact, save for several people, I haven’t really openly spoken about my fasts.

Another of these very few people was someone I met last Thursday. The day before my fast, I went over to a friend’s house to offer a helping hand, or rather, a pair of helping claws (post about this to come tomorrow). While at his house, I met his father. In size, he was intimidating but in personality, he was very calm and serene (for this reason, he’ll now be known as the Silent Giant). I had the honor of having several conversations with the Silent Giant two days later. That fact alone was odd because I typically do not talk to my friends’ parents, much less their fathers, as a result of my home environment. However, what’s more interesting is that this man left such an impression on me. We talked about spirituality and church and humility and charity and I felt as though everything I’ve felt about those things was coming out of SG’s mouth. It was as if the universe found a way to give me what I missed during my fast through him and I’m so happy that it happened. 

Knowing that these two people know the things that I want to experience gave me what I needed and what I missed. Part of the humility that I’m seeking is knowing that I can learn and grow through my experiences with others.

I’m not the best at opening up to people but lately, it just seems that  I’ve been doing so with so many of the right people. And to the person that’s responsible for encouraging me to do it, I’m very grateful.

Image from the article Observing Ramadan

Image from the article "Observing Ramadan"

first friday fast…first

This past Friday was the first of my First Friday Fasts. The night before, I put aside some time for some prayer and meditation. It was a good way to help me get in the right mindset for my fast.

The next day, I woke up unusually early and figured that sleeping in during my fast wouldn’t be the best use of my time. I spent the day studying, running, and whenever the mood hit, I would think about the world, its people and God. Friday was a particularly good day for this because I found out that morning that two of my friends have relatives going through major health problems at the hospital. Rather than just having a general prayer for the world, I was also able to think of specific people in mind at the same time, which I believe helped me more than I helped them.

During my prayers, I thought of how millions of people around the world go through unbearable hunger and that this was a way of holding out my hand to them and sharing in their experience. I was also humbled by the thought that for me, this was strictly voluntary and would only last for a day. Unfortunately, they do not have the same choice.

I also thought of the importance of sacrifice and discipline. I read somewhere that while people think that suppressing one’s sexual desire is the hardest thing to do, it is actually the desire to eat that can prove to be the greatest challenge. The reason for this is that unlike one’s sex drive, whose onset is around the teen years, the drive to eat has always been there from birth. Learning discipline and sacrifice, I believe, is essential to gaining humility. Understanding that the only right one has is the right to live is a product of discipline, sacrifice and humility.

The last thought I had was one that came as a surprise. Around late afternoon, when the pangs of hunger were at their greatest, I suddenly realized that this body will give up. With no nourishment, it will die and the only real strength I have is one in spirit. I quickly became aware of one of the greatest aspects of what I’m doing: fasting will reveal the truths in me and about the world.

I can’t wait until next month!