Prayer and Fasting

It rained cats and dogs this morning when Bernie and I went up to Little Falls to park cars at the Boys & Girls Club. We went over to Reality Roasters and schmoozed with Mark Nygren for a while. He gave me one  shot of the strongest coffee I have ever had. No nap this afternoon even though it would be lovely given the rain and all.

Yesterday, Sept. 7, was proclaimed by the new Franciscan Pope Francis to be a day of prayer and fasting for Syria. I thought I would try the fasting , ala Muslim Ramadan. My granddaughter, visiting from Turkey informed me of a couple of things about how Muslims make it through their very difficult days of Ramadan. They fast from sunrise to sunset each day. But here is the secret: they sleep through half of it. She told me that while she was over there, they would get up before sunset, eat, and go back to bed until later which shortened the actual awake fasting time. She also told me that every few hours, a prayer would come over the loud speakers all over town. I asked if that made them remember how long it had been since they ate. She said, no, it helped them remember how much shorter the time was before  they could eat again. Here in America, we couldn’t do the prayer over the loud speaker thing, but we do have church bells…that would certainly work for some who wanted to fast during their work time. People could make up their own prayers when the bells ring…I like that idea.

Anyway, I got up early and ate some boiled eggs and whole wheat toast before sunrise. Protein, I have learned, satisfies my hunger way longer than other foods. As Bernie and I were driving out of the yard, we spotted a white dove on the roof of our shed. Doves, you know, represent peace (remember Noah) and white doves represent the divine (remember Jesus’ baptism). I felt encouraged by the bird, as though I weren’t doing this sacrifice alone.

All went well until we got home from doing our task. I drank water, which apparently Muslims don’t. My granddaughter told me I am exempt because I am old. I decided to take a nap, which I’d hoped would shorten the fasting time. Unfortunately, there were a series of phone calls coming in that made me keep hopping out of bed, so that didn’t work well. I was aware of the time exactly half way between sunrise and sunset: 1:15 pm. When that struck, I thought, “That was easy.” But I was wrong. The second half of the fast was way more difficult than the first. My stomach began to growl. I spent a good part of the afternoon thinking about what I would fix for my sunset supper. I thought about fried tomatoes, but decided I wanted something that didn’t take so much attention to fix. I knew it would be difficult to stand in front of the stove for any length of time. I settled on fried zucchini, tomato and basil over pasta. Then I did some needle work and watched TV to keep me occupied. Bernie ate his supper on the porch so I would not have to watch him while I waited for the sun to go down. I thanked him for that.

Well, I made it. I broke my fast at the exact minute that the sun sunk into the horizon. I was very proud of myself. I have to say, food tastes really terrific when one is really hungry.

One more thing: the prayer part. I reflected on what it might be like to be an adult living with children who are hungry. Would I be able to let my portion go to the children? I thought my fasting would help toughen me up. My growling stomach reminded me of those who go hungry each day all over the world. Whenever I felt slightly weak, I thought about the people in the Middle East who are suffering right now and prayed for wisdom for our world leaders.

Now, if you are tempted to in any way to make fun of Middle East Muslims for their fasting habits, let me remind you of the Catholics who are known to eat shrimp and lobster on Fridays during Lent. No stone casting!