Lent Alphabet (F)

FASTING

The people of Nineveh believed in God: they proclaimed a FAST and put on sack cloth, from the greatest to the least.

So many thoughts surface for me when I come to explore the concept of food and fasting. I am conscious of friends who have struggled with eating disorders, I am troubled by the rise of foodbank use in the UK and throughout the world there are communities facing severe food shortages due to long term conflict, war and drought. So how do we hear the language of fasting?

In all the major Faith traditions of the world fasting plays a significant part. In the story of Jonah fasting is used as communal activity to bring about a change of heart. It’s an interesting detail that even the animals join in with the fast. The story shows fasting as an effective tool for change.

In the monastic tradition an element of fasting is built into daily life. It’s not so much the quantity of food that is restricted, it’s more that meal times are set and ordinarily you can’t help yourself to what you fancy when you think you need it. For St Benedict the middle way is the key to food provision and consumption. He wants his monks to eat neither too much not too little.

Lent then can be a time for finding that middle way in our relationship with food. Over the years I have come to realise that time spent eating mindfully and really appreciating the meal in front of me is as important as eating less. However you approach it, fasting is a tool for changing your heart. It’s about small changes that will enable you to prepare and celebrate Easter with joy.

Is there a small change that you could make to help you prepare for Easter with joy?

(Jonah 3:1-10, Wednesday, First Week of Lent)