Payman has spent the last 2 weeks or so getting up before the sun rises to eat his breakfast, and waiting until the sun sets to eat or drink anything. Fasting, in one way or another, is a part of most world religions, and the Baha’i Faith is no different.
Baha’is fast from dawn to dusk in the 19 days before the first day of Spring, the New Year on the Baha’i calendar.
There are different reasons people fast, but Payman has always clued into one meaning for him: understanding hunger.
I vegan fasting when I was 14 but haven’t in 5 years because I am exempt when pregnant or nursing, for pretty obvious reasons. So sometimes I participate in my own way, but mostly I get to live vicariously through him on this one.
According to an article in today’s newspaper, North Carolina tied with Louisiana for first place as the state with the largest amount of children under 5 who go hungry. Apparently, 25 percent of our children here feel hungry, or as the paper put it, 1 in 4.
I suppose this could be where I enter into an argument for toddler nursing (free and healthy and filling!) but that isn’t really my point here.
That number really shocked me. A child in Florida who was interviewed described hunger as “a black hole” and the world’s hungry people exceeded 1 billion last year.
Payman remarks to me, each year during the Fast, that all he has to do is get up early and skip lunch, and how hard just that is, and how people can’t believe the strictness of our Fasting (which is 11 days less strict than the Muslim Fast, but perhaps a bit stricter than giving up something for Lent). Not that I mean anything by comparison, because a big part of Fasting is what the sacrifice means to us personally and spiritually, but moving on.
We have such a luxury that we never have to really truly know what it feels like to be hungry and unable to remedy it. And I tend to think of it has a war-torn, third-world-country type of thing, but it obviously isn’t.
To think this week I was fretting about not returning to work for a another couple years with Ada and how it would be nice if I was working to be able to afford already grown peach and cherry trees to plant in the yard to bear fruit, since organic ones are so expensive at the super market.
One big lesson about our Fasting then, is putting your life in perspective. Beautiful perspective. It’s amazing how 2 years ago I said “But *what* will I eat if I can’t eat dairy and gluten?” and so many others voice that same thought to me when they have to give them up or just talking about Ada.
We have everything to eat right in front of us and down the street.
And we get stressed about the cost of food and how incredibly hard it is to maintain our budget these days.
So thank goodness for perspective. We are not hungry. We don’t even know what it means to be truly hungry.