Posted on September 14, 2013
Being hungry and thirsty is not enjoyable, but it's not supposed to be. Fasting is an age old tradition in many cultures to detoxify the body, demonstrate faith and as a form of spiritual reflection. To me, it's a symbol of strength, solidarity and honor.
Fasting for 24 hours, knowing I have a kitchen stocked with food and filtered water at the ready, is a reminder of how fortunate I am and rich with basic human luxuries; certainly as compared to many in the world. Some cultures fast once a month for longevity and supposedly have much lower risk of Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes. To choose to feel their pain for one day is only an inkling of what some have no other choice but to experience.
That's the point of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. We acknowledge that, as with human nature, we have sinned and can be better to others and ourselves.We fast from sundown to sundown on one day, so that we are not: indulging or pampering, but reflecting on all that we have, all that we have done, all that we are and all that we do and think about others. It's a time to honor those who have passed and pray for those in need. Only when we strip ourselves down to the lowest common denominator can we even begin to understand what others' experience.
For these reasons, and to honor my heritage, I fast each year. It's not so bad. It does get a little rough around mid-day, but the closer it gets to sundown, the more I think, "Hey, I can keep going. Is it time to eat already?" We are capable of so much more than we think. Testing ourselves and honoring how lucky we are and acknowledging that we can and will be better is humbling experience I encourage everyone to try.