Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Baha'i Nineteen Day Fast: Three Days to Go

Every year from March 2 to March 20 Baha'is fast from sunrise to sunset each day. In years past, I used to take a few posts to talk about my experience during the Fast. This year I've had a slightly busier schedule and have not blogged as often as I'd like to, so now, on day sixteen, with three to go, I spent some time reflecting on some of the lessons and challenges of the Fast.

The Fast is all about simplification and detachment. With limited energy, it's necessary to cut out those extraneous activities we spend time on normally. Initially, I tried to keep the same schedule, but soon felt exhausted and unable to maintain the same pace. So the Fast is a time to examine what is important in our lives and what we need to give priority to. My family is important. Friendship and my community are important. My career and my obligations to my co-workers are important. Rest, reflection, and relaxation are important during this time to recharge batteries. In a sense, we take everything non-essential out of our lives and then gradually determine what's important to put back in. I am looking forward to the renewal of Spring because exercise and strenuous activity is vital also, but impossible for me during the Fast! Can't wait to lace up those hiking boots again and breathe in the clear air!

I also sometimes find that the things I tend to worry about become much less important during the Fast. Whether it's because of waning energy or some spiritual benefit of the Fast I do not know. Sometimes I'll even catch myself thinking about something I usually worry about, and then I just let it go. I haven't always mastered that ability, but sometimes during the Fast it becomes achievable.

The Fast also marks the end of the year in the Baha'i calendar and preparations for the beginning of the New Year (Naw Ruz). As such, it's time to reflect on my path, what I value, and the direction I'm headed. Because of the aforementioned decrease in mental energy, sometimes it's a quiet acceptance along with a gentle decision to choose what's important. It's a spiritual Spring cleaning of the soul in preparation for the year ahead!

Every year the Fast is different for me, and every day the Fast is different also. Some days seem to go by with only a gentle reminder of hunger later in the day, and some days feel like they'll last forever! I definitely feel more in tune with the cycles of nature as I notice the change in light at this time of year, the days are lengthening as sunset is later and later, and I feel the warmth in the air.

This time of year is also a time for community. I went to four potluck dinners with friends during this Fast. We enjoy each other's support and camaraderie. Since this is a time of year for Fasting in various forms by other religions (the Catholic observance of Lent for example), I also feel a kinship with those of other Faiths.

So, as the Fast winds down and we observe the last few days, my energies are starting to turn towards the coming New Year. May we all find the peace and harmony we seek, and may we contribute to a better future for our entire human family!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I enjoyed Departures, a Japanese film which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009. The film gives a glimpse into the beauty and elegance of Japanese culture. It is also an exploration of the preparation for death, which, paradoxically, teaches us to embrace and love life. We witness the transformation of a young man as he finds a way to serve his community. We also see the healing of old family wounds and the creation of a new family. There are plenty of light hearted moments to make the tone of the film hopeful and funny even though it deals with a serious topic.


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