The past month or so has been very odd indeed. first off, a rather large one-centimetre-wide kidney stone floors me in the middle of the night and sends me packing to the emergency room; then, upon returning from the hospital, I spend a good week or so recuperating at home without even leaving the house (not cool), all the while working from home; then, upon seeing my doctor and being declared fit to return to work, I do so and promptly get a nasty case of the winter blues—just in time for Ayyam-i-Há (blah). I want my month back.
The brightest spot in all of this is that, along with sending me back to work, my doctor indicated that I would be OK to observe the Fast. ever since I reached the age of fifteen, the 19-day Baha’i Fast has been a special part of my life—full of serenity, challenge, and “ah-ha” moments (as one friend described them to me). for me, the physical Fast isn’t all that hard—I actually enjoy it, because it helps me reset my metabolism and my eating habits—it’s the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of the Fast that are the biggest challenge for me. The following tidbit from South African Baha’i blog 1863 Unity Road offers a good glimpse into the challenge of the Fast:
It is not enough to just abstain from food and drink though, it is the spirit in which one approaches the Fast that is important. One should spend time in prayer and meditation and consider how to improve our lives. This spiritual preparation helps us begin the new year, which starts immediately after the Fast, strengthened and invigorated.
Well is it with you, as you have followed the Law of God and arisen to observe the Fast during these blessed days, for this physical fast is a symbol of the spiritual fast. This Fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting (compilation)
I’ve blogged before about finding it difficult to keep myself in that spiritual mode—the “state of prayer” also described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “remember” is what I always mumble to myself. remember your obligatory prayer. remember to show virtues and spiritual attributes during the day, and remember not to fly off the handle or get bitter when things don’t go your way. remember the sufferings of Bahá’u’lláh, the sacrifice He made to bring us His Revelation and to fulfill God’s Covenant with humanity. I guess I can easily use my imperfection as a reason to get all down on myself—especially if I’m already predisposed to getting the blahs—but it’s normal for people to have ups and downs, especially when wack things like gigantic kidney stones come to screw you up.
It helps a lot to remember that God has shown us the way to fulfill our part in His Covenant—he takes care of us by sending His Messengers to educate humanity, and we recognize those messengers and follow their laws, including of course the well-known requisites to spiritual growth. in fact, whenever I remember those simple actions—obligatory prayer, meditation on the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, teaching His Cause, serving humanity, and so on—it seems to fill my soul with a new spirit, chasing away thoughts of inadequacy and negativity and replacing them with something positive and beautiful. vivid memories and impressions of pilgrimage help me shake myself out of the stupor of day-to-day life, too. whenever I say the Long Obligatory Prayer I’m reminded of being within the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, turned towards that most sacred spot, the inmost Shrine, my heart burning as I offered that daily devotion.
So day three is done, and it’s on to day four of the Fast. To cite Coué‘s affirmation, every day, in every way, I am getting better and better. You may want to browse through some other Baha’i blogs to see what they’re writing about the fast: Delara has been sharing daily insights about her Fast, and Barney, Philippe and Leila have recently written about their thoughts and personal experiences while fasting. Ciao and happy fast!