Tag Archives: Ramadan

The Unplanned Fast

(Written August 18, 2014)

I was so amped up about getting to work today! I got up extra early (in spite of going to bed late). I actually did a “before-shower-workout” – about five minutes of exercise before you shower – that I had been meaning to start doing for months now. And I cooked lunch. I usually bring my lunch to work. Today, though, I had to prepare something to go with my eggplant parmesan. After cooking I packed my lunch bag early. I got ready in record time. And I was ready to leave the house early! On the way to work I had a long talk with God. This talk was longer than usual, perhaps because I was early and didn’t have the regular drive-time pressure. As I spoke to HIM, thanking HIM for his blessings and praising HIM for blessings to come, my heart filled with gratitude.

I pulled up at work, all chipper. Then I realized that I forgot my lunch bag at home. I was so upset. The strange thing is that when I’m rushing, I never forget my lunch bag. I started thinking. I knew that I’d be too busy to leave campus today. And I said to myself that maybe I should fast (abstain from food) for the day. But I was joking. With only some green tea in my stomach, I was already hungry. And although I was on good time, leaving to buy breakfast and lunch would only put me back. So I hot-stepped into the office – ready for the day.

At my desk, I decided that I would fast. That I would try to continue the connection I had earlier with God – despite the busy day I knew was ahead. I’ve been fasting on and off for many years. I haven’t been too routine within the last 4 years, as I had in the past. I usually fast for spiritual reasons. For me it’s sacrificing the physical, for connection with the spiritual. So I like to prepare myself physically in advance. Today however, gave me no preparation. Interestingly, just a few days ago, a colleague told me that she was fasting as part of an observance of a Catholic holy day. That gave me even more encouragement for today.

Later as I drank some cold water, it tasted so good. It was like the best thing I’ve ever consumed! I thought about how important water was to me since it was the only thing that I had. I thought about all the people around the world who didn’t have clean drinking water. And I silently prayed….

Because fasting is spiritual, I rarely speak about it. Scripture tells us to “appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy father which is in secret.” (HB Matthew 6, 16-18) But I wondered how common fasting was now and personal rituals around it. I’m quite aware of the Muslim holy season of Ramadan. I also know that some Christians fast during Lent. But I wondered about less structured forms of fasting done by individuals and families.

Do you fast? Do you encourage everyone in your family to fast? At what age do you allow your children to fast? Do you fast with groups? Or is fasting for you individual thing? How does fasting work for spouses who are of different religions or faiths? In what other ways do you connect with God? Let me know. I want to hear from you!

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Chronicles of an Island Girl’s First European Adventure: London Part 2

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Bolt, the Queen and the Marble Arch

Usain Bolt seems to be a really popular guy in London. As we made our way around the city he was featured in quite a few advertisements. Go Bolt! Equipped with our complimentary hotel umbrellas we headed to the famous London Bridge. Apparently the London Tower and the Tower Bridge have replaced the London Bridge in prestige. All this time we had been singing about the London Bridge falling down, I had expected the London Bridge to be a bright, shiny part of the city’s history. Instead the Tower Bridge was the main attraction. We visited both, just for the fun of it.

Our next stop was Borough Market – an open air market that sells everything from fresh Parmesan cheese, to candied nuts. There I had the best honey, cinnamon roasted cashews. The vendor sold trays and trays of candied this, or yogurt covered that – and he allowed me to sample all that I wanted. I had to consciously make myself walk away from the table. We were told that we had seen only a fraction of what the market had to offer, because it came alive on the weekends, not on the Tuesday that we were there.

Catching the “tube” (metro/train) we made a second attempt at the Buckingham Palace. We had a nice stroll through Green Park on the way to the palace. I don’t know what an average day is like at the palace, but to me, the place was packed. Does the Queen really live there? We hung around taking pictures at the palace and the Victoria Memorial.

On the way back to the hotel I was delighted to find a roadside fruit vendor. Back at the hotel we dropped off our day’s purchases, then headed back out to wander around the Marble Arch area.

The group settled on Middle Eastern cuisine for dinner. My boyfriend, whose culinary taste had been hard to please, wanted something more familiar (hint, American franchise food) so we continued along.

It was a nice stroll in downtown Westminster. As we reached the end of one street – we saw it – the Marble Arch. What is it with the Europeans’ fascination with arches? My companion decided to eat at a McDonalds. While he was ordering I noticed veggie burger on the menu. It was part of the deli menu. Veggie burgers at a McDonalds? I had to inquire more. I didn’t feel like eating a sandwich. But I was encouraged to try it to see if I liked it. And I liked it. It was lettuce, cucumber and mayo on a wheat bun, with a chickpea burger. The burger tasted like falafel, which I had earlier at a Middle Eastern restaurant. The mango smoothie was pretty good also. That was my first time eating lunch at a McDonalds since I stopped eating fish at age 19 (I stopped eating meat at 15). I really enjoyed the stroll, as there was no pressure to make it to any particular destination.

Heading back to catch up, with our friends, we encountered a long line in Restaurant. We joined the group, who had finished their meal. All of us were in high spirits and decided to do a group toast. As we sat there sipping on champagne, we were getting mean looks from the people who were waiting in line. This was strange, as everyone we encountered in London was really nice. I asked the server if the restaurant was always so popular on a Tuesday night. He explained that it was Ramadan and the fasting ended at sunset so every evening was packed. We soon ended our celebration and headed back to the hotel.

At the hotel we made arrangements for transportation to the airport. We were leaving out from London Southend Airport, which was more than an hour from the hotel. We had an early flight to Amsterdam.

Stay tuned for more on my European adventure.

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