CFN – This a special time of year, not only is spring coming it is also the time of year during which Bahá’ís from around the world fast from sunrise to sunset. We get up before the sun comes up in order to eat and drink and prepare ourselves for a day where we take nothing by mouth until after sunset. This time of year renews our connection to our highest power and makes us aware of our weaknesses. I find that every year I work on improving some aspect of my character as the Fast goes along. Usually a theme appears that becomes the subject of attention. This year it is to learn how to truly love and accept myself. It has been an incredible experience because for the first time in my life I feel like I know what that means.
You know the old saying that you cannot love anyone until you love yourself? To love oneself is not a selfish objective, it is really about knowing that deep inside we are a spiritual being and that we have gifts, talents and faculties to bring out into the open. We all have them, some more obvious than others. Loving oneself is about striving to break open our heart and contribute to the good – to spill out the Divine love we all have access to behind the mask of the material.
In past years, over the course of the Fast, I have worked through grief, forgiveness, resignation, compassion as different themes. It is one of the purposes of religion to give meaning to our lives. Fasting is an opportunity to step back from daily routines around which our lives revolve – in this case food and drink. We then have the opportunity to fill that space with spiritual thoughts and expression. I have been taking extra time to meditate and reflect, to journal and to ponder some questions that perplex me. Every year as the time approaches for the fast, I ask for the strength to actually do it. It takes a strong determination to go through the various physical discomforts- thirst, weakness, aches and difficulty in thinking are some of the challenges that can present themselves. I have found that the best starting point is humility in the face of my weakness. Therein lies my greatest strength. In humility are found many rich gifts: there is nowhere to go but up!
The Fast also slows things down and a new appreciation for the world of nature is gained. Between March 2 and March 20, there are incredible changes that take place: we go from a deep freeze into budding leaves; from winter coats to spring jackets, from snow to rain, spring flowers appear, the Divine Springtime is at hand! Wishing you all a happy spring and hope that your month of March is filled with new learning and appreciation for your many gifts.
Shirley lives and works in Cornwall Ontario and is a member of the Baha’i Community.