I’m now into the third day of my fast to coincide with Ramadan. As I mentioned before, my hope is to learn more about Islamic faith, to work at building bridges of peace (starting with me), and to draw nearer to God. As a Christian, I will strive to remain faithful to my beliefs, while learning to respect those of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
I have fasted before, but I’ve never made it a spiritual habit or regular practice. One of the first things I realized as I sat down to my first early morning meal on Saturday* was how thankless and ungrateful I am, and how little I regard food, given my life of relative wealth. To be honest, the only time I’ve been consistently thankful for my meals is at supper when my family sits down together. Frequently, I tend to be rushed or distracted (a reflection of my North American culture), and I don’t savor and enjoy what God has given as a blessing. And so I was humbled to receive my food.
* Muslims call this meal “suhoor”, which literally means “of the dawn”.
I was humbled again later as I prepared breakfast for my daughters. A typical action would be to snack on some of the toppings that I’d put on their oatmeal: maybe some berries or nuts or chocolate chips. And this quick snack would be consumed without thankfulness. This time as I conscientiously refrained from snacking, I was able to be a little thankful for the food that I didn’t eat, and my heart was softened a bit.
The other thing that I’ve noticed is how self-centered I am – how I spend more time focused on the details of this fast than I spend focused on God. (When is sunrise? When is sunset? My stomach is aching. I wish I could have a drink. And so on.) I’m grateful that there is time here to change my focus and to learn to look away from myself and toward God.
One of my goals this month is to learn more about Islam. One of the things that I’ve read is that Ramadan is a time for reconciliation and mending broken relationships. This reminds me of the instructions that Christians receive before communion. It is also something for me to take to heart in light of my congregation’s struggles and my hurts.
So – lots of learning so far (and a little sleepiness)! I’m looking forward to the coming days. May God forgive my self-centeredness and lack of thankfulness and teach me humility and gratefulness.