Re-Ligare: to Bind Back, or Re-Bind
March 8, 2005
The past few days have been more bearable without coffee than the first few. It is only coincidence that I am drinking a Starbucks mocha as I write. So we see one of the physical effects of fasting – caffeine deprivation. What of the spiritual? At its best, fasting is an enlightening and liberating experience. At its worst it is an extreme trial. I’m trying to make it a period of spiritual revitalization.
As one might expect, the 1000+ mile one-way journey to the pre-tundra of Minnesota has not always been easy. Which is to say that is has also been incredibly rewarding. Much like fasting, moving away from home (Texas generally) is both a test of detachment and an opportunity to embrace new ideas and modes of living (no, it not like moving to Siberia, but different enough for now).
One of the little things that has been truly challenging is the adjustment to new restaurants and coffee shops. We’re finally beginning to find some eateries we approve of (after several failures). As for coffee… we’ve only found one place nearby that stays open as late as 11:00, and it is the Starbucks in our local Barnes & Noble. Which isn’t so bad, since my wife and I both love bookstores.
Adjusting to new streets, shopping, and climate (yes, even weather!) has not been terribly difficult. Plus, I truly enjoy my job – which amazes me still, 5 months into my sojourn there. The most disorienting part of moving has been growing into a new religious community. By no means is this an issue with the community itself – you guys are wonderful! But for years I have been surrounded by my fellow Bahá'ís everywhere: at feasts, holy days, and the institute process; with the youth at UT or the handful of us playing men’s league soccer; even at work for two (of 3) years after graduation. Little did I realize how thoroughly ensconced I was in the community, or rather it in me.
Thus even as I withdraw from caffeine & food (at least through sunlight hours), I am working to reengage with my Faith. One way is by re-exploring my Bahá'í identity, some of which is recorded here. Retaining faith in a reality beyond that which I sense every day has not been easy. Though science and religion are not mutually exclusive, the walls we have built around them are difficult to span. And no matter how much I tell myself that “God doesn’t work like that,” the weight of the world’s suffering can be overwhelming. These are issues I hope to continue exploring here, and I would love to read your thoughts as well.