Day three brought a sudden preoccupation with math. Things like, "40 minus three equals 37. Which means I am less than 10% done with this fast. In fact, I'm only barely nine percent through this fast." Followed by thinking about the next day and the day after that and how far along I could be soon. Which brought the inevitable question, "Am I crazy? Why am I trying to do this?"
The fact that I am asking myself if a long fast like this is crazy is only complicated by the fact that today is the first day where I've been around anyone other than Nurse Shasta for a meal, which means we come to the awkward "Why I'm not eating" conversation. Fasting isn't completely unheard of in the Christian realm, so most people assume you're fasting "for" something. In other words, they want to know why you're fasting... is it because you're praying for direction in life, or on behalf of world poverty (i.e. praying for God to give food to those in need or something, I guess). I can't help it, I feel awkward when people ask about it, especially because my answer is, "Well, I felt like God wanted me to go on a fast and I don't have a clear reason why." It's not a satisfying answer for them or me. Other people feel awkward, too, so they're not going to keep pushing for more details. Which is fine, but it leaves everyone feeling slightly weird, I think.
|"Not only are we gorgeous, but we also get to EAT together."|
Part of this, of course, is that even in a highly individualistic culture like our own, meals continue to have a community feel to them, especially at something like this conference we're at. Everyone eats at the same time, at the same place, around tables, and it's natural that you're going to come together and talk and laugh and get to know each other. This is one of the hardest things about fasting for me, the feeling that you are an outsider during community time, so I work hard to be a part of these things. I still sit at the table during community meals, even if I'm just drinking a glass of grape juice. When I get home next week, I'll still be a part of family meals, I'll still cook, I'll still help clean up the dishes, I'll still sit at the table and be a part of the family even though there's an empty plate in front of me.
There's a reason, I suppose, that Jesus went into the wilderness for his forty days without food.
I think I mentioned this the first day, but the prevalence of food is pretty overwhelming when you're not eating. The billboards alone are these lovingly rendered pictures of juicy, alluring food. At one point I caught myself thinking, "mmmmm food porn." Advertising loves to show food that is absolutely beyond fantasy. It could make you hungry after you just gorged yourself, and it sure is making me hungry now.
One last weird note... tonight I found some popcorn in my teeth. What?! How can this be? It's been three days since I ate ANYTHING and I don't even know how long since I ate popcorn. And I don't think I want to know....