I'm fasting today in preparation for a routine colonoscopy tomorrow. For weeks now, I've been dreading the procedure--especially drinking that foul tasting liquid and surviving the 24-hour fast.
I like food. And I need it, because I'm an active person in my ministry and outside of it. I spend an hour in vigorous exercise five or six days a week. So, I need my food and the energy it provides: Bring on that steak burrito. Give me a large sausage and black olive pizza. Bust out another energy bar. I'm hungry.
Today, though, my "food" consists of Werther's Originals--I've eaten so many that I think my skin is turning brown--Jello, as long as it's not red, and steaming cups of chicken broth. Yummy!
Dreading the fast, I decided this morning that I had to think about it differently--to "re-frame" it, as cognitive psychologists might put it.
So, I'm treating my fast as a spiritual discipline. There's a long biblical tradition of doing just such a thing, Jesus himself fasting for 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism and before the beginning of his public ministry.
In yesterday's Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus delivers his Sermon on the Plain, in which he pronounces God's blessings on vulnerable human beings, including the hungry.
Lately, as people at Christ Episcopal Church know, I've become particularly concerned about the growing level of hunger, food insecurity and starvation in Springfield, in the United States, throughout the world.
I read in The New York Times yesterday about refugees in Syria who had survived bombs and bullets in that country's civil war were now perishing for want to bread.
I'm hungry for only today, and by choice, but millions of people are hungry for days, months, even years. They're hungry because they're poor, and their food stamp benefits have been cut; because they're out of work or working at minimum wage jobs; because their countries are full of war and violence.
On this fast day, I'm hoping my hunger will help me to identify more closely with those for whom hunger is a daily reality; hoping my hunger will help me to experience more keenly God's own hunger for a just world; hoping my hunger will inspire me to work even harder for a world in which no one is hungry, but everyone is fed.
This is my prayer.