I fast in Lent as a preparation. Just as one heroic act is made possible by a lifetime of little heroic acts, just as a marathon cannot be safely run without days, weeks, months, even years of training; likewise, if I am going to run the race of faith, dare the foolishness of faith in the decisive moments, I need to have trained in the little daily moments. I need to know how to open myself to God’s grace as I travel little valleys, so that when the Valley of the Shadow of Death comes, I will fear no evil because I will know the God who is at my side.
I fast in Lent for freedom. I am bound by so many things of which I am barely aware. I am bound by consumerism, by busyness, by techno-addiction, by habits of mind and heart that keep me from experiencing abundant life. In Lent I declare with my fasting and by God’s help, that none of these things that keep me bound are ultimate. I declare, with the full freedom of a child of God, that these things do not have to have control of my life. And this freedom inevitably spreads, because I can’t step into my own freedom (however haltingly) without noticing others’ lack of freedom.
I fast in Lent for justice. My fasting during Lent reminds me that Love is what is eternal. It creates a thin place, lifting the veil between worlds, easing scales from my eyes, and allowing glimpses of things as they truly are. When I step bit by bit into my own freedom, I become aware of the ways in which others are enslaved, sometimes by systems in which I am complicit. So freedom, for me, leads to confession, which leads toward justice, which leads back again to freedom. Indeed, is not this the fast God chooses?: to loose the chains of injustice, to set prisoners free, to shelter the homeless, to feed the hungry.
But I don’t just fast in Lent. I also immerse myself in activities and postures that open me and bring me and the world joy. For Christians, Lent is a journey to the cross, toward death, and always in the shadow of sin. But we also know that the story doesn’t end there. Lent is also a journey toward new life that rises from the ashes of the old.
So today begins the fast and the feast. This year I am fasting from Facebook and “yeah, but…”‘s. This year I am feasting through daily prayer / writing around a word and through daily connection with nature
. If you are fasting and/or feasting this Lent, feel free to share. It’s always good to have companions on the way!
I look forward to seeing what new horizons God opens to our vision in this season, and I pray this journey’s blessings on each of us and on the whole world.
Laura Stone is a former Community musician and former mental health worker (at Gould Farm in MA). She is currently most interested in practical theology, urban ministry, and how worship, theology, and justice connect. She will begin pursuing these interests as a PhD student at Boston University. Catch her article, “A Brief History of Christology” in the Fall 2012 Issue of Brethren Life and Thought.