One of my favorite books on the spiritual disciplines is Marjorie J Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Life and I made a decision a few weeks ago to re-read it with a conscious goal in mind of how and where fasting fits into each discipline Thompson writes about.
It has become an enriching experience as I have have made numerous connections between fasting and the disciplines I have re-read so far.
For example, in her chapter, The Nature and Practice of Spiritual Reading, Thompson makes a very clear and important distinction between spiritual reading and reading for information. She quotes Macrina Wiederkehr’s A Tree Full of Angels: Seeing the Holy in the Ordinary.
“We do not always realize what a radical suggestion it is for us to read to be formed and transformed rather than to gather information. We are information seekers. We love to cover territory.”
As I read not just Wiederkehr’s words but the entire chapter, I began to think about my speed reading ability and how fasting has begun to slow me down to meditate more and gather information less with my reading as a way of listening to and for God, even myself!
Several things I have read in the past year regarding our social media soaked life brings to mind the vast amount of information consumption we now engage in. I will wager that if you saw a link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus, you were scanning those feeds quite rapidly and making split second decision about what to further pursue and what not to further pursue.
( I see you on your smartphones thumbing quickly through them!)
But what reading just this section of Soul Feast has made me aware of is that part of fasting, is to slow us down and think, ponder, reflect, meditate, and… increasingly important to me, listening. Oh how much of an information gatherer I have become. Perhaps information consumer is a better word choice.
And do we not get constipated when we eat to fast or too much of certain foods?
So do we not get spiritually constipated when we read too fast, too much, too soon and perhaps too much of this and not enough of that?
Maybe part of fasting these days is to serve as a soul laxative to get us spiritually unplugged.