It was the first time Sandra had tried fasting. While raising 6 kids her coping mechanisms were to indulge on what she could, whenever she had a free moment for herself. She definitely hadn't had time or patience to wait for God who rarely showed up when she gave him the five minutes here or there. She always just turned on the TV, or got up to microwave a pot pie or something.
But now that the kids were out of the house, and her husband was gone for a week at a time for missions trips, and it was Lent, she had a chance to try it out. She was on day 2 of a 3-day fast from food.
Yesterday had been rough. Her stomach growled constantly, her head ached, and she found herself slamming cupboards and cursing the guy who took her parking spot outside of the hardware store.
But now, things were settling down. She was still hungry, but her body had stopped fighting.
She was at the grocery story, planning for her first meal after the fast. She picked up broccoli and peacefully admired its weight and balance, and its beautiful shades of green. She would sauté these with onions and salt, she thought, and smiled at how good that would be. She put it in the bag and went and did the same for onions, salmon, and ingredients for a clam chowder she had always remembered her mom making.
When she got home she laid out the ingredients on a long paper towel, and just looked at them. She was so looking forward to every bite. She breathed in deeply and realized how happy she was in her longing. The anticipation for what was to come was so tasty. Yes, she thought, this anticipation left a very good taste in her mouth.
She put them into the fridge and reached to turn on the TV-- but stopped. She pictured all this beautiful anticipation being drowned out by talk-shows and commercials. She cocked her head and wondered, "Hmm."
She leaned down uncomfortably and looked for her Bible in the side table. She dusted it off and went into the kitchen. She slowly steeped some tea as she looked at the Bible.
"I've never got much from you before. But I think I'm sort of enjoying being hungry right now. I think I'll let myself try to be hungry for you for a few minutes."
She took her tea and Bible to the front porch and sat. She let the Bible fall open in her lap and it ended up being in Deuteronomy somewhere.
She read for a moment and sighed, "This is what I mean."
But as she read, she started recognizing impulses butting themselves in. She'd always just gone and done them before, but now she talked to the Bible as she felt them, "Sorry, but I think I should call Jenine real quick, while she's on my mind."
She picked up her phone and stopped. She listened to her heart and saw she was excited to talk to her friend. That was a good impulse, but as she waited she just kept talking. "God, thanks for my friend. . ." a moment later she added, "Please help her heel get better. . . and her husband to drink a little less." She started to put her phone down as she told herself, "I'll try to ask her more about that when I call her later."
But before she had put it down, the phone buzzed. Her son had posted some pics of her grandkids. She opened it and started to reply. She paused and then just called her son.
He answered on the third ring. "Hey Mom." He sounded slightly annoyed.
"Hi, I just wanted to say hi." She caught herself and paused.
He waited and then said, "Aren't you going to say you really want us to come over as soon as we're free today?"
"Um," she noticed the usual impulses thumping in her and said, slightly surprised, "Um no, that's okay. I just wanted to say the pictures are adorable. Give my love to the kids."
"Oh," her son seemed pleasantly surprised. "Okay. Thanks, Mom. Yeah I. . . will. Thanks for calling."
She looked back down to the Bible, tried to read a little more and got discouraged again. "God, I am hungry. I'm here and listening. Don't you say you're the bread of life? It's certainly not fulfilling me."
She felt the gurgle in her stomach and looked up at the picket fence and the farmlands around her house. She sighed. Then a spark of curiosity turned her to her concordance. "I wonder what you say about hunger."
About 36 hours later she sat in front of her plate of food. She put a tidy bite of salmon and buttered broccoli into her mouth and chewed. She let out a very satisfied sigh.
But then she found herself tearing up. She put her fork down on her plate slowly and savored the bite as she chewed and swallowed it.
Then she pushed her plate aside. She looked over to her Bible, open next to a messy scribbled-on notepad and a pile of used tissues. She slid it all in front of her and said, "I know it's okay to eat now. I know it's weird, but I don't want this hunger to go away quite yet."
Raw Spoon, 9-1-22