Friday, July 17, 2009

Fasting and Finding God's Signs....

Yesterday was a challenging day as I fasted from water and food from sunrise to sunset to express solidarity with the people of Gaza. That meant fasting from 6:00 AM till 8:00 PM--fourteen long summer hours. (See my post for July 10 or

Prior to learning about the fast, I had arranged a dental appointment in Torrance and promised a homeless couple that I would have lunch with them. I also planned to go to the DMV when it opened at 8:00 AM. This required waiting outside from 7:00 AM so I'd be first in line.

I find that when I set an intention to do something for God, I often receive a sign of God's approval.

In this case, the Lord's response came in the form of a song. As soon as I arrived at the desk of the DMV clerk, a cheerful black woman in blue jeans, she began to sing quietly to herself, "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. " I laughed and began to sing with her.

I had to laugh because I knew that her singing was a sign from the Lord. I had come to the DMV in order to obtain a new title for Kathleen's Honda so that it could be sold and some of the proceeds used to help our homeless friends Melissa and Shawn.

After the clerk and I had sung together, I explained to her that my wife and I used to sing this song every day during our cancer journey, and she understood immediately that the Lord was giving us both a sign.

We had a good time sharing our experiences with the Lord as she processed my forms. How pleasant it is when we do our mundate tasks with a sense of the Divine Presence!

Jesus told us not to be gloomy when we fast, but to be cheerful. That's because, by giving up food, we are not depriving ourselves but deepening our connection with our Heavenly Father and Mother, the Source of Life. How liberating, how joyful, to give up earthly food and feast on the Spirit!

It is not always easy, however. When I met Shawn and Melissa, my homeless friends, I knew it would be a challenge to watch them eat while I fasted. But as we sat together at Buffie's restaurant, I felt calm and at peace as I offered to pay for a deposit on an apartment for them. I was pleased that they accepted this offer as something perfectly natural, something that family members do for each other, out of love. I also knew they realized I was doing this not only for them, but also for Kathleen and for the Lord.

My leading to help them had been confirmed by a sign. On Wednesday, during midweek communion, I was asked to read from the Gospels and the passage was the one in which Jesus tells Peter to "feed my sheep." I have always interpreted this passage metaphorically but this time I realized he also meant it literally. "Feed my sheep" means give food to those who are hungry and homeless. That's how you show Jesus how much you love him. I was so moved that I choked up and was almost unable to read the passage. Another sign of Spirit at work....

After lunch with Shawn and Melissa, I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned. By this time, hunger was beginning to set in. After I left the dentist, I had a splitting headache--probably a symptom of withdrawal from my daily intake of tea.

This excruciating pain reminded me of what the Gazans must go through daily as they endure almost unimagiable deprivation due to the seige. This is one of the precious lessons of fasting--to teach us to empathize at a gut level with those who are suffering. I was pleased to learn today that my friend Carol Frances and others in the Free Gaza movement were able to reach Gaza yesterday with at least some of their humanitarian aid....

I went home, took a nap, and felt a bit better. When I awoke, I avoided hunger and thirst by plunging into work, gathering material for my talk on a "Nuclear Free World." I also called up family and friends. The hours flew by and soon it was 8:00 PM and I could break my fast with a Mexican meal--tamales and Spanish rice and beans. Yum!

I felt very liberated and close to God after this day of fasting. I couldn't have done it without Divine Assistance, and the little signs that there really is Someone who listens and cares....

Loving God, thank you for the signs of Your presence and of Your love. May I always walk in ways that are pleasing to You and be conscious of those who are suffering and in need of my love and support...and please, Lord, help the homeless and the people of Gaza to know that You care, and that we care....

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