It’s been a very beautiful and inspiring last few weeks. Since March 2, Baha’is around the world have been taking part in a period of fasting. It’s a unique time of sacrifice and turning towards God. With my diabetes, it’s not safe (and therefore not required) for me to do the complete fast of no food and water during the day; however, this year I was incredibly grateful that my sugar levels were in good enough control that I could just eat a small granola bar mid-day and that was usually all I needed. I realize that the physical fasting is just a symbol, a reminder, of the Fast’s true spiritual essence, but it still feels wonderful to be able to sacrifice physically too.
A few quotes from the Baha’i Writings have really stuck out to me this year:
“Whosoever experienceth the holy ecstasy of worship will refuse to barter such an act or any praise of God for all that existeth in the world.” (Baha’u’llah)
I think there’s a big difference between being familiar with a spiritual concept intellectually and having it actually start to sink into the fiber of your heart / being. I also feel like I’m just beginning the transition from that first world into the second. I knew the concept in the quote above for some time… but this year, on the first morning of Fast, I was awake at dawn, far earlier than normal (since being at SEARCH! 🙂 ), and had as much time as I wanted to pray and meditate. This extra time made it easier for me to get into a deeper state of connection / prayer. In the past, I was usually soooo attached to sleep that I’d get up as late as possible, leaving some time to pray, but rarely having that “timeless” period where I could just sink into it. As I read the quote above this year, I realized that a few extra minutes of sleep is not worth “bartering away” / trading the chance to have deeper worship!
“Blessed is the one who through the heat generated by the Fast increaseth his love, and who, with joy and radiance, ariseth to perform worthy deeds”. (Baha’u’llah)
I just liked the tangible description of the “heat generated by the Fast”; it reminded me of the quote
“Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things” (Baha’u’llah)
and was a helpful reminder that any small sacrifices made during Fast can hopefully generate “heat” that will hopefully be translated into love and worthy deeds!
I’ve also been reading Rumi’s poetry lately (I find the ecstasy in his poetry a good reminder of the passionate love and longing for nearness to God described in the Baha’i Writings). This is a poem by Rumi entitled “Fasting”:
There’s hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
is stuffed full of anything, no music.
If the brain and belly are burning clean
with fasting, every moment a new song comes out of the fire.
The fog clears, and new energy makes you
run up the steps in front of you.
Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.
When you’re full of food and drink, an ugly metal statue
sits where your spirit should. When you fast,
good habits gather like friends who want to help.
Fasting is Solomon’s ring. Don’t give it
to some illusion and lose your power,
but even if you have, if you’ve lost all will and control,
they come back when you fast, like soldiers appearing
out of the ground, pennants flying above them.
A table descends to your tents,
Expect to see it, when you fast, this table
spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages.
Wherever you are, whether you’re a Baha’i in the midst of the month of fasting, or have fasted for other reasons or occasions, I hope it is an uplifting and special time for you. 🙂