A friend invited me to join her in a weeklong fast earlier this week, and I found myself saying almost instantly ‘yes’.  This is not to say it was an impulsive ‘yes’  rather it was one of those yeses that seems just to be waiting for someone to finally ask the question so it can come out to play. Yet as the week drew on, and the day drew near to our journey together, I began to question my wisdom. I realize, of course, that this is not unlike many of my self-doubts and second guessing. That censoring, fearful, and critical voice often comes chasing after the quieter, certain one, nagging it until it finally relents.

There is something more binding about a yes that is a commitment to another, rather than to oneself, at least for me, and I presume for many others too, particularly women. We often won’t let another down, though we have no problem doing it to ourselves. Oh, I certainly have experienced those other ‘negative yeses’ — the can’t-say-no yeses, the yeses to role, or to another’s expectation of me– but trusting this yes to something that feels instinctively right is new to me.

No, this is not the ‘yes’ I wrote of in this week’s post. That ‘yes’ was a BIG yes, to something I’d desired and prayed and heard, but had tried to run from when that fearful me came with her nay-saying.  But it is interesting to me that this smaller ‘yes’ came with the same ‘I can’t’ chasing her. I expect its time for me to take her by the hand and show her that we can.

I expect this is going to be one of those embodied spiritual learnings, like the one I had (with this same woman incidentally) while portaging my canoe in Algonquin. A re-minding me, through my body, of my strength, my courage, my will. We shall learn that my yes is a yes this time.

But don’t read this wrongly, the initial yes was not about willpower and control. This initial yes was a powerful draw to attend to something in me.  For one thing, I feel called to take a closer look at those patterns of eating in me, those places in my life where I either eat mindlessly, out of habit, the way a cigarette smoker lights up every time she sits down with a book, or those places in my life where I eat to distract from pain…or boredom…or fear, those places where my eating is almost unconscious, disembodied.  I desire to live a life more present than that. A life fully feeling and engaged.  A life attentive and intentional, mindful and watchful.

Some months ago a book was recommended to me, Geneen Roth’s, Women, Food and God. I have several of her books on my shelf, but the line that caught me to buy yet one more was when this friend stated Roth’s premise as believing that women’s compulsions, on either end of the spectrum, whether they be eating compulsively or compulsively dieting (I’d add compulsive exercise to that for me) are really a substitute for our hunger for that thing you name as god (or spirit, or aliveness, or meaning). We are using these things to fill up ourselves, either literally or by way of filling our time and our minds with all of the counting, and measuring, and logging repetitions. I’ve mired on both ends of that spectrum.

There might be some who’d say that this exercise in fasting is but more of the same.  Perhaps from the outside that might appear to be true, but from the inside I can with authenticity say that this is completely different.  The difference has to do with intention and attention- – what am I hoping to see, and what I am gazing upon.  It’s not about being perfect in order to gain Love, nor it is about covering up in order to hide from it. At its core it’s about me wanting to be present to that which is present …and Present.. in me.  

 ‘Why should the wedding guests mourn when the bridegroom is with them. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away, and then they will fast’.

This passage of text grabbed me by the heart this week.  In reading it I felt that same longing in me to feel fully alive and In Love, the longing reflected in that surface feeling of which I’ve spoken of late; reflected in the mourning I experienced the day I read great love poems to my granddaughter and noted they felt like rote words; reflected in the boundary of death I solicited in order to give myself permission to live.

My deepest desire is to reconnect with my depths, to reunite Spirit and soul, body and mind, divinity and humanity, in me, to be One. And so my prayer during this time of fasting is to let my hunger draw me back into my Hunger, into the arms of the Beloved and into the arms of Belovedness, to let it be a weeklong retreat of attention to Be-loved-ness, with a built-in call to attention, like the monastery bell embodied.  Though I intend to move through the routine of my ordinary days here at home, meeting with friends, sitting with family, working on projects, etc, my hope is that the hunger bells in my body will re-mind me that I am carrying Love within me, always.  Like centering prayer, may I have hundreds of opportunities given to return to Love.  This is like carrying the knowledge of a great secret within,  a secret that is like a deep smile, the secret of a great Love affair between god and me, between the Spirit and my soul. May the child who is born from this union be blessed.

Yesterday, I was so very enlivened by the imagining of a new creative project, a love-child if you will, in me;  enlivened as well by those who have nurtured this presence in me.  I felt powerfully the release of some long-buried passion in me. It was, I think perhaps, the big ‘yes’ of this week that opened the door to it, freed it in me.  However, as I drove to my agreed upon appointment with my friend last evening, which was to be the beginning of our fast and the following through on my littler ‘yes’, I was suddenly afraid that a week of fasting might diminish my energy, and I didn’t want to lose it again. I thought then of turning back because, like a young couple both longing for and afraid  of having a baby, I almost convinced myself that the timing was off, that I couldn’t possibly conceive and nurture this baby while doing this or that thing.  It’d have been a good-enough excuse, I needed all my energy for this creative endeavor.  All at once, though, I clearly understood that the energy I was feeling in that moment had absolutely nothing at all to do with the food I had eaten. This was an energy born of something else entirely!  (and I wonder here, how much of my eating is an attempt  to find that life-energy ).  This was an energy born of my passion for this new life in me, from my excitement around purpose and calling, not unlike the love that powerfully propelled me and gave my heart courage when I was a young mother. I could describe it as this, Spirit and soul (eros and psyche) made contact and ignited something powerful in me yesterday. Oh, there is a love-making quality to this energy. Yes.

Another piece of this fast for me is this distinct call to Compassion I have been hearing. (Hmmm. Com-passion , with passion ! ). Part of that call is more of the same desire to give myself with passion to this new thing in me,  without reservation or censor. But at the same time, central to the call  is this abiding desire– to give myself to somebody, something, someOne  greater.  I want to know my creative call as a response to a need in the world. I want to believe that as this red room in me closes to new lives, which desire or need  to come into this world, other rooms in me are opening to receive that which is needing and longing to be born into this place.

So this is a big part of my prayer for this week, to see beneath the surface also of this thing, this creative child of mine, beneath the surface manifestations, the distractions I might follow, the fluff that might threaten to cover it over, the myriad ways in which I might feed it without conscious thought and without attending to the essential need, the ways in which I might get caught up in the hunger and not tend to the Hunger.  I want to know that “one thing necessary”. I want that kind of clarity, unhazed, the Knowing that is deeper than knowing, the ‘why’ that will keep my ‘how’ sacred, the love that will give my heart courage. I want to draw deeply from those roots in my-self-as-Love as I bring this thing forth into Life.  I know that I need, the world needs, my life to flow from that place.







1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: diving deep and surfacing « Emmaatlast’s Weblog

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