Day 46

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)


About Wilson

J. Wilson is an award-winning homebrewer, BJCP judge and pretty good dad. View all posts by Wilson

22 responses to “Day 46

  • Mike Reeder

    Bless you. Happy Easter. He is Risen.

  • ChristopherS

    I’ve very much enjoyed following your journey over Lent, and found it interesting and inspiring for my own spiritual life.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts via this blog – and congratulations on completing the challenge!

  • LeeAnn Balbirona

    Sort of a strange way to end your Lent.

    Your understanding of Catholic beliefs and teaching on confession and penance is all wrong and your way of stating it was sort of ignorantly offensive.

    I am disappointed.

  • Stephany Jackson

    Absolutely ! I concur !! Happy Easter ! Thank you for sharing the journey ! Blessed Be !!

  • Stephen

    Well said. I hope you’ll post a blow-by-blow of breaking the fast. Especially what you choose as your first glass of something outside the Doppelbock family. Methinks I’d be craving something a little more hoppy right about now.

  • christopher

    Like LeeAnn, I’m surprised to find your Lent end on such a note. Regardless, thanks for sharing and educating on the way as we watched from afar, and Happy Easter!

  • Gerard Walen

    “Sitting in a church doesn’t make one a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes one a car.”

    Amen. To paraphrase someone famous, but I can’t remember who said it, “I get uncomfortable when someone tries to confine The Creator to a building.”

  • Cassandra

    I have to concur with LeeAnn.

    I can let the remarks on Catholic practice pass due to ignorance. The tired cliche about church attendance is perhaps more troubling. The marginal Christian who fulfills his obligation is better off than the one who fails to acknowledge his obligation altogether. (Cf. Jesus’ parable about the two sons).

    If you really embarked on a Catholic penitential practice with so little understanding of penance, then it’s no wonder you came out of it just scratching the surface of what you could have pulled from it. A bit like an atheist picking up the Gospels to check out the “social teachings”.

    Congratulations on the completion of your historical survey.

    Well, keep at it. It may eventually all make more sense to you. God be with you.

  • Craig

    Thomas Merton; you need to read Thomas Merton. I’ve been keeping up (mostly) with your blog and really think that Merton is someone you would both relate to and really get something from. Merton was a monk (Trappist), but not before he lived it up for a good number of years in his youth. “The Seven Story Mountain” is always a good place to start, but his collections of more spiritual essays like “No Man Is an Island” or “New Seeds of Contemplation” are great too because they don’t require quite the time commitment.

  • Tom from Raleigh

    Hey J,

    Well done on a memorable journey. Happy Easter!

  • Ann

    I have been following your journey since I stumbled upon it around Day 5. I have been inspired, challenged, and encouraged in my own faith and in the discipline of fasting. Thank you for sharing your journey. And as a fellow foodie, I am excited for you to be able to enjoy it once again! What’s number one on the menu? (after soup and smoothies?) Happy Easter!

  • Lisa L

    Happy Easter,
    Thanks for sharing your journey. It has been inspiring to watch you see it through. No matter what your religious beliefs are, seeing something through for 46 days is a big deal. Most of us give up when it gets too hard. Thanks for seeing it through and inspiring some of us to stay the course of our own personal journey even when it seems to be too hard.

  • Splendid

    Congratulations! Thank you once again for sharing your unique journey with others. Reading your words and listening to what this has meant to you has changed how I think about many things as well. One thing that never seems to change is how certain ‘Christians’ have to make everything about themselves; telling you that they are disappointed with you and calling you ignorant. WWJD? I think he would enjoy a good meal and pleasant conversation with you. Blessings to you and yours.

  • John 28

    Happy Easter! Congratulations, my wife and I are hoisting a home brew in your honor.

  • Brian Moore

    … it’s kind of a big deal.

    Bring new light to what life might be. Enjoy.

  • greggi

    Kinda weird way to end but you are a journalist.So what the doctor said says about this was is an interesting part.Thanks for digging up the past.

  • Tiffany

    Congrats on your liquid journey! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    I’m not sure if I’m glad my liquid fast is over. I had a small meal Easter night but haven’t gone out to binge like people thought I would. I lost 37 lbs, I feel great and like you, I’m proud of my discipline to stick with it the entire 46 days.

    Cheers. We did it!

  • Duke E

    Well done. My faith path is not yours — but I think there is some commonality in realizing the world is a sacred place, and to know the Divine is to cast off from a known shore into an unknown quantity.

    “God Is A River” — Peter Mayer

    In the ever-shifting water of the river of this life
    I was swimming, seeking comfort; I was wrestling waves to find
    A boulder I could cling to, a stone to hold me fast
    Where I might let the fretful water of this river ’round me pass

    And so I found an anchor, a blessed resting place
    A trusty rock I called my savior, for there I would be safe
    From the river and its dangers, and I proclaimed my rock divine
    And I prayed to it “protect me” and the rock replied

    God is a river, not just a stone
    God is a wild, raging rapids
    And a slow, meandering flow
    God is a deep and narrow passage
    And a peaceful, sandy shoal
    God is the river, swimmer
    So let go

    Still I clung to my rock tightly with conviction in my arms
    Never looking at the stream to keep my mind from thoughts of harm
    But the river kept on coming, kept on tugging at my legs
    Till at last my fingers faltered, and I was swept away

    So I’m going with the flow now, these relentless twists and bends
    Acclimating to the motion, and a sense of being led
    And this river’s like my body now, it carries me along
    Through the ever-changing scenes and by the rocks that sing this song

    God is the river, swimmer
    So let go

  • Linda Conley

    I followed your fast throughout Lent. I admired how you looked after your health throughout it all especially because you have children and a wonderful wife. But your final comments regarding Catholics was deeply insulting to me and my family. I hardly think I am some sort of a zombie when I am attending Mass; it perhaps took me 18 years or more to appreciate the richness of the Eucharistic celebration but appreciate I do still, now in my 54th year of life. My daughter attends an Ivy League and my son graduated with a Chemistry degree and both find great solace in their Catholic faith. They are thinking creatures when they attend Mass. My husband suffers from Usher’s syndrome which results in a very serious sight and hearing impairment. (He is mostly blind.) We have a very close family and I happen to think our faith has been the undergirding of all that binds us. Your comments were out of place. There was no reason to insult Catholics on the last leg of your most amazing and laudable journey.

  • Jane

    I’ve followed your blog since the 4th or 5th day of your fasting, and I’m really impressed by your obedience to your own goals, and also impressed by what you got out of your experience. I’m not Catholic, but I’m having a hard time understanding why some out there are so offended by your final thoughts. I took it as “here are MY thoughts on MY fasting journey,” rather than “Catholics have it all wrong,” which seem to be how some people are taking it. So preach on, brother! I really enjoyed your blog for the past 46 days. Congrats on completing such a worthwhile journey!

  • Dell

    Congrats, Wilson!

    I am very impressed that you completed your journey, and I thought your closing words and reflections were spot on. Maybe I’m wrong, but I gathered from your comments throughout the fast that you are a Catholic yourself, though you perhaps fall into some category one might call “reformed Catholic” or “neo-Catholic.” I took your comments to be reflective and reflexive, aimed back at some of your own misconceptions about what it means to be Christian, and I did not find them to be offensive to the Catholic Church at large.

    Your words convey a deeper understanding of what it means to be a child of the Almighty, but, unfortunately, there are many who do still believe that sitting in a building on Sunday mornings is all that being a Christian is about, whether Catholic, Methodist, or Baptist. Traditions are a wonderful way to connect in worship with millions of others throughout history, but too often they get in the way of what God really wants from us, which is a loving relationship with him and each other. Everything Jesus did on earth had to do with building loving relationships.

    Thanks for your willingness to share your experiences and your perspectives out in the open where everyone can see. We may not all agree on every single thing you believe, but that’s the beauty of having a Savior: we know we can never be right about everything and we don’t have to be!

  • Kristin

    Forgive me for saying so, but I am confused as to why some of you are lashing out at someone who is sharing a very personal journey and personal opinion with everyone. In a personal reflection of faith, no comments are “out of place”.

    Historically speaking, while it may not be the norm now, it was believed that going to church and going to confession were the ways to speak to God. Martin Luther was one of the first to preach about a personal relationship with God outside of the church and not lead by priests. Some denominations, not all, still believe the former.

    So maybe instead of looking at the ending to this blog as, “Well, that is not the way *I* wanted it to end!” you could try: “Well, that is not how I feel, but he has had an interesting journey.” And take away from it what you will.

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