Our rice fast ended on Sunday at dinner. I almost added “mercifully” at the end of that sentence, but, not to sound all tough or anything, it really wasn’t that bad for me. On Sunday, before feasting on taco soup, guacamole, and corn chips, we had some time together to reflect on our 9-day rice fast thanks to Amanda and Rachel‘s Community Night.
We talked about how it affected us physically, mentally, and in our daily actions and interactions. For me, I didn’t feel it so much physically. Sure, I was a hungrier earlier before meals, and I always wished that I had more to eat, but I still had sufficient energy, never got sick, and even made it to the gym a couple times.
I did find, however, that it greatly affected other parts of my day-to-day. Normally, I eat lunch at 11:35am with a group of other teachers, but, because dinner wasn’t until 7:30pm or later, I tried to stretch my dollar (rice bowl) and eat closer to 1pm. It worked, but it took away from a part of the day that I really enjoyed: sharing a meal with a large group of co-workers. On a more positive note, I could sleep later in the morning because I didn’t have to make breakfast or lunch. I only had to scoop rice into a container and pick a seasoning (adobo and BBQ sauce is actually pretty darn good, by the way).
I also had to deal with cravings, offerings, and many, many questions. Every time I smelled any food or saw a food commercial, I immediately wanted it. At points, I thought I would just “go grab a snack” or I would yearn for a saltine cracker as I passed the box in the kitchen, only to remember that we were on a fast. I’ve never wanted a peanut butter and jelly more in my life! My own head was torturing me!
On a more serious note, though, it’s amazing how easy it is for us to “go grab a snack” or head to Chipotle for a quick bite. We don’t even have think about it. But what if we lived where rice was basically the only food available? We wouldn’t have the same options that we take for granted every day. It’s easy to forget that. This week, I was wholly aware.
During school, fellow teachers and staff often graciously offer Kelly and I extra food. It seemed like they had more food than any other week combined last week as we continually turned down free food (a volunteer almost never passes up free food). With each refusal came an explanation (and later in the week a “Oh, right, you’re fasting. Sorry!”) and with each explanation came a funny look like, “Really? You guys are crazy!”
Like I said, it was a tough week and I was incredibly glad when the fast was over, but I was also incredibly glad that I actually did the fast and finished it. I have my community to thank for that. If not for them, their support, and mutual participation, I would never have done it in the first place, let alone stuck with it for 27 meals. The most fasting I had ever done before this was abstaining from meat on Fridays during lent. Not anymore! And, now, I’ll never take my PBJ for granted again!