I never want to fast

I never want to fast.

It always feels...just so unappealing.
Why would I deny myself something I enjoy and need so acutely?
I like to eat! I like the ritual. I like the experience. I like the joy of shared meals with friends. Cooking and preparing food is an artistic experience for me as well. I enjoy the process of bringing different flavors and textures together.
I even like taking pictures of meals I prepare, because I love how the colors and form work together.
And, well, my body needs food for fuel.
There's really nothing in my flesh that wants to fast from food.

So, why would I fast?

To use some logic:
Jesus showed us what it means to be human.
Jesus fasted from food.
Jesus said his followers would fast once he - the bridegroom - departs.
Jesus is my Lord.
Therefore, I fast.

What does fasting represent? What's it for?
Fasting is feasting.
We fast from food to feast on the presence of God.
We fast from food to nourish ourselves upon the Word of God.
We fast from food to remember that Jesus is the Bread of life.
We fast from food as a deposit of hope in the in-breaking, everlasting kingdom of God.
We fast from food to train ourselves to not be controlled by our physical impulses.
We fast from food to remember we are embodied souls with soulish bodies.
We fast from food to cleanse our bodies - minds and digestive systems.
We fast to make space to listen to the Spirit of God (we can't control when he speaks, but we can enter into a posture of readiness through fasting).
We fast as an act of repentance and contrition.

Every time I think about fasting, my mind revolts. NO!
But, you know, every time I have fasted has been beneficial. I've never fasted and then though, wow, I wish I wouldn't have done that. Should have eaten.
I love food.
But, the question is: do I love God more?
Fasting may be one of the most critical, life-giving practices for saints living in Western abundance and opulence today.
Everywhere we turn, there is food (or often times, what passes for "food" but is void of any real nutrition).
We are a snacking culture.
We are a food culture.
We even fill our Instagram feeds with pictures of food (myself included).
If culture is a world of meaning - habits, rituals, narratives, images, institutions, symbols - then we dwell in a culture - I, here in America - which is defined by consumption and food obsession. 
One more mindless sugar hit will numb the ache of emptiness and metaphysical hunger I feel.
So, maybe I need fasting. Badly.
Perhaps, fasting is an act of warfare against the cultural tsunami of pervasive consumption and emotional eating.
What does it profit you, Jesus asks, if you gain the world and forfeit your soul?

I must always enter the courts of fasting with humility and tentativeness.
In the mingling of my flesh, my will, my soul, my mind, I am prone to a performance mindset and even an unhelpful ascetic orientation.
Denial is best, right?
No, actually, over and against Gnostic or dualist heresy, in God's kingdom, food is to be received with joyful thanksgiving and is even a centerpiece of the feast of rememberance, the eucharist. God made food and it is good!
But, I want to earn God's favor and smile upon me.
Fasting will impress God, right?
Fasting will never earn me those accolades.
Fasting is bread, not barter.
It's a mysterious feast of an empty plate which does not garner me favor with God, but takes me to his table, ready to receive from him.
And, it's Him - His presence - which I truly want and truly need over and above any temporary sugary snack or beautifully plated meal.


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