Back in the day, as I was going through my college anatomy & physiology courses, one element in particular kept coming to the forefront in these and related classes: identifying “normal” structures. As a dental hygiene student, we had many classes associated with head & neck anatomy, the oral cavity and of course, tooth composition. In fact, we received so much instruction on “normal” tooth composition and function that even as I slept at night, my dreams were filled with visions of teeth!
It wasn’t obvious until our clinical work just how valuable this repetitive training was. By learning -thoroughly- what is “normal” ,when an anomaly does occur, it’s identified immediately.
Maybe fasting is not so unlike this training... maybe fasting provides a clear vision as to what is “normal” according to God, thereby equipping us to immediately recognize the stain of sin on our souls.
As we Orthodox Christians prepare for the Great Fast, the 40 days prior to Pascha (Easter), my thoughts have been inward, thinking about my own challenge during this time of spiritual renewal, increased prayers and almsgiving. It’s no secret that fasting is a challenging aspect of my spiritual life. Even though, at times, I have experienced the spiritual fruit of this practice, each occasion first challenges my attitude followed by my stubborn will. I frequently fail. It’s a climb worth making, but oh how I complain about that first step!
The Church proscribes a strict fast from certain foods (meat, dairy, fish, wine & oil) during Great Lent; personally, I add to these foods “indulgences” in my daily life. Since I am an info-junkie (reading online news, articles, blogs, reviews, music, etc. also facebooking), I’ve realized that my justification ie, being informed on various topics, is really just a selfish excuse. And so, my online time is being reduced this Lenten season, in favor of more time in prayer and reading Holy Scripture.
By eliminating some fluff in my daily life, I pray that my vision will change, that Christ will renew my spirit and prepare my heart for Pascha. That I will recognize sin & temptation as it creeps up in my thoughts and stop justifying my selfishness.
Lord have mercy and grant me self-control!