Some Catholics have construed the spiritual element of my journey to be my willingness to give penance, though for me it was primarily an openness to spiritually-thrust enlightenment during the time of my historical study into this beer legend.
Of course, God will have noticed my sacrifice, knowing my deep-rooted personal self, and appreciate that I would so willingly “endure” it. But for me, penance wasn’t the reason behind this fast. There was history and wisdom to be farmed out of this ground. I believe that God forgives when we ask it, and not for the number of Our Fathers or Hail Marys we lift up or for simply attending confession.
Confession and forgiveness can happen anywhere, and the key is more about maintaining an open communication line with God, not in donning a suit and nodding off for an hour on Sundays. Sitting in a church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes one a car.
In the early days of this journey, I worked through a “Monk in the World” curriculum put out by Abbey of the Arts, and feel compelled to return to a few words that struck a chord for the long haul:
“As monks in the world, we are always on the path, always growing, we never fully arrive and so we always have more to learn… [Being a monk in the world] is not something we simply become and arrive fully. It means being committed to the process of discovery, a transformation of a lifetime.”
As an avid cook, I know that simple, uncomplicated ingredients can open up a world of health and pleasure. Going without food for a time can heighten appreciation for food and many other elements of life, while cleansing and fine-tuning the body and spirit. As many cultures over history have discovered, there is a lot of value to fasting.
Today’s culture of excess breeds waste and gluttony, and if the Roman Empire could fall like so many others over history, then perhaps it isn’t farfetched to consider that ours might too. It is paramount for future generations for us to develop sustainable practices and steer away from our commodity lifestyle of fast and over-processed food.
Maybe I didn’t get all the nutrients I needed these last few weeks, protein especially, but for a short burst of fast-induced focus, proved that one could not only survive, but thrive, on a simple diet of beer and water. Somebody call Myth Busters.
We are capable of more than we will ever fully realize. I walk away alive, well and with a stronger understanding of discipline, focus and priorities. This journey ends, but it’s a stepping off point for what comes next. If I have the good sense to apply it to my life.
Thanks for being a part of the journey.
Peace and Pints!
(yesterday: 132; today: 135)