Sunday, March 08, 2009

Violin Played By Ethereal Hands

From March 2 – 20 is a time of fasting for the worldwide Baha’i community. Imagine living without water or food for nineteen days. Well, actually, it is during our most active hours between sunrise and sunset. Usually as the time of fasting approaches, I look forward to the ordeal—something like a long-distance runner looking forward to a marathon as a challenge that is given him to transcend. This is the heart of the matter, that we need to be tested in life so that we transcend and grow. In this case, our hunger and thirst, which we can so easily satisfy but do not, becomes the instrument for the growth of our willpower, devotion, temperance, and sense of trust in God. Outwardly it is a bit hellish, but inwardly, it is like entering a garden of paradise. Those who are excused from fasting include people that are sick, pregnant or nursing mothers, those under fifteen or over sixty-five years of age, and travelers going more than eight hours distance.
Every year is different for me, and this time, from the beginning I immediately hit a brick wall. After arising before dawn to eat, I felt drowsy and lethargic. The rest of day was like being submerged in water and moving in slow motion. The feeling of pushing through water has remained, now that it is the eighth day. My concentration suffers too, and sometimes I forget what I was thinking. Nonetheless, I stay the course and want to continue. I often have blissful moments when the pure currents of life touch me as if I am a violin played by ethereal hands. I have become more acutely aware of my physical presence in the world, and can appreciate more intimately changing temperatures, smells, breezes that touch my skin, and in general, the physical nuances of life. Also, I am aware of the satisfaction of eating my hunger. The Persian Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Only the true favorites get hunger for their daily bread.”

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