Lent and the Baha'i Fast

March 14, 2006

Only six more days left in my eleventh year of participating in the Bahá'í Fast. This year I haven't been "jonesing" for caffeine as much as usual, which has been a bit of a pleasant surprise. I think I've been sleeping better and been too busy at work to dwell on it as much as last year.

Last week I was reading the Executive Director's Weekly Reflection from the Reverend Canon Charles Gibbs, ED of the United Religions Initiative, a man whose life (and writing skills!) I admire deeply. He was writing about the Christian season of Lent and how he grew up celebrating it in the Episcopal Church. He concluded his reflections thus,

So, as this Lent begins, I find myself yearning to experience the power for global transformation that might come if we, from all faiths, practiced these rituals together for a month. If, together, we repented of the madness humanity is inflicting on the sacred community of life on Earth; and, repenting, vowed together to amend our lives, eliminating negative practices and practicing virtue.

And then, together in joyous celebration, recommitted ourselves to making peace, justice and healing sovereign in this world.

What do you think?

I was surprised to find myself the only taker on this this question, at least in the public mailing list forum wherein I first encountered his message:

Every year as spring draws near, Bahá'ís around the world join in fasting from sun up to sun down, March 2 through the 20th. Then we celebrate the Bahá'í New Year (Naw Ruz), and the first day of spring, on the 21st. In the grand scheme of religious history, it hardly seems coincidental that the Bahá'í Fast is at the same time as Lent =).

Fasting and prayer/meditation of any sort can be powerful agents for self-sustenance and growth. The fact that I am joining several million other Bahá'ís around the world in fasting at the same time gives me a strong sense of unity with my community. I've always known that Lent was also at the same time, but for some reason never strongly identified with it. But reading your message gives me that feeling of communion with an even larger (much larger!) community. I will have to meditate on that further.

I think our mutual support and encouragement can only deepen our individual commitments to spiritual cleansing, to seeking out the words and actions that might cause pain to others, to helping those less fortunate -- in short, to drawing closer to the Great Spirit. Peace be with you in your Lenten disciplines.

I only hope that, one day, I can live up to his example!

(PS, for those who don't know, Lent isn't always at the same time, though it is always around the same time...)