For this final post on my 2015 One Word – Fast, I re-read my journal entries. As I re-read them (and to my surprise there only 14 for the entire year with the last one being written in September) I could feel and see a journey from uncertainty and even fear to one of quiet calm as I practiced the discipline of fasting not just by abstaining from food but also social media and simply “going quiet.”
As I read, I began “seeing” a slowing down and a more measured response to life.
Silence was a theme that caught my attention as I re-read. Trying to get in 15 minutes of silence a day has been a challenge and my soul and my body have started telling me, “Take 15 Jim and go quiet.” I have not always paid attention.
“Go quiet”… that seems to be the essence of what I have been learning and experiencing this year. “Go quiet Jim. Listen. Stop squirming. Stop fearing. Be.Still.”
Now I want to make sure that you understand that this has been done very imperfectly and that I have slipped in and out of a fasting routine throughout the year.
But… the routine, the discipline of fasting has been imprinted in me. I cannot walk away from it. It has been a source of hope, pleasure even, and the silence is golden… essential…necessary….
The insights and experiences that I have had… the movement of God in serendipitous ways… the facing of deeply rooted (and unhealthy, sinful even) attitudes which have been there needing to be faced… these have come because of fasting.
As I re-read my journal I again re-read the words of the late Henri Nouwen that I wrote down earlier this year because they spoke to me in a deep place :
“Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, “Prove that you are a good person.” Another voice says, “You’d better be ashamed of yourself.” There also is a voice that says, “Nobody really cares about you,” and one that says, “Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.” But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, “You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.” That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen.
That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us “my Beloved.”
I have heard that voice in a deeper more powerful way than I have heard it before. I have often argued with it and tried to run from it. But I could not, I cannot. It is the voice of Love incarnate. The One I need to hear the most. Voice that I hear especially through prayer and fasting.