Day Two: Fasting

IMG_0610In the middle of summer there is no better place to be than Margie’s Candies. If you live in Chicago then you may already know this. If you travel to Chicago you should not miss this neighborhood treasure. When we moved back to Chicago from Nashville two years ago it was one of the first places I brought the kids. It was a celebration after a rough road home. The trip to Margie’s was a homecoming but the road there is what brought us closer to each other as a family.

In the summer of 1997 I was pregnant and ready to deliver my first child, my daughter Riley. I thought I’d be “on time” because all pregnant women need to think this. Most of us hope we’ll go earlier than our due date and when it’s late June and one is carrying another 30-35 pounds (or 52 pounds in my case) then what we really want is to be done with that part of the journey and moving into the next part, parenting. My mom came from Cincinnati the week I was due and because we lived in the neighborhood, we walked every day to Margie’s Candies. Every day we walked the 8 or so blocks and then walked back, joking that this might be the day. But after a week my mom had to return home and I waited again. It was another 2 weeks before I finally delivered, 18 days past my due date.

At it’s essence I suppose the practice of Fasting has always been about “waiting” for me. As a Catholic our main fasting time was Lent, waiting and preparing, being reminded daily that we are ash, that we are redeemed, that we are not a slave to the things of the world. As Orthodox, I see the practice of fasting in a broader context because fasting feels less about denying myself something and more about perspective, less about what lies at the end of the waiting and more about what I am doing during that wait.

It isn’t about the ice cream I’ll have at Margie’s Candies or the baby I’ll hold after I finish labor but about the walk with my mother, the talks we had on the way, the time we shared in the waiting. The waiting is the thing, the journey is the thing, gaining the perspective that this it, now and always, that this moment is valuable and necessary. That’s what the fast means to me now that I am Orthodox and it is a strange feeling, a quiet and sometimes poignant feeling, a celebratory feeling, a satisfying feeling. It is one foot at a time, noticing the way the air feels, the cloud cover, the heat of the sun, knowing that we’ll get where we need to go, we’ll get there.

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