I called Yaseen yesterday afternoon to ask a question. He didn’t pick up, and I left a message on his voicemail.
A couple of hours later, he returned my call. “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t answer earlier,” he said. “I was taking a nap. Helps the day go faster.”
I laughed and said, “So it’s not just me?”
It was an enormous relief to hear that Ramadan professionals also take naps as one way to endure the fast, especially in the late afternoon during the heat of the day. As the traditional time for dinner approaches, I “feel” the fast the most.
But the Ramadan fast is all about “sensory experience.” That’s the biggest difference between a Ramadan fast and a wimpy Methodist one. I don’t remember really struggling to get through a Lenten fast.
This is different. And it “feels” different.
Let me try to describe it:
First, I feel a constant “buzz” in my head. I can’t think of a better word than “buzz.” My throat and mouth are on the verge of being cotton-mouth dry all the time, and there is a dryness inside my head that stretches from the back of my throat straight up into the middle of my head, somewhere in my brain. And that dryness makes a very soft, gentle buzz-y feeling, of which I am always aware. It’s not a sound, just a vague sense; neither is it uncomfortable, just persistent.
This buzz serves a useful purpose, by the way. It keeps me conscious of God, of God’s presence, of God’s will that is bursting to become real in the world. And so when something else isn’t going on in front of me, the buzz reminds me to speak to God.
Besides this buzz, I feel more alive. I am more alert to my surroundings, to sounds and colors. And when I do finally eat in the evening, everything tastes like a gourmet feast. My wife, Leah, threw burgers on the grill last night and prepared a pretty simple hamburger, which is something we eat at least once a week. But it tasted like manna from heaven. Every bite was unforgettable. Meanwhile, I sipped a glass of water, which tasted as sweet as if it had come from a spring in the Rockies. I even groaned in pleasure as I ate and drank, prompting Leah to roll her eyes at me.
This kind of experience prompts a raw feeling of gratitude. I have never been more thankful for a hamburger. It reminds me that I am usually not that grateful for anything. I don’t remember the last time that I was desperate for something, utterly desperate for something terribly important.
Another result of my Ramadan fast is that I suddenly find myself with more time on my hands. I don’t need to break for lunch in the middle of my day. I don’t have to think much about food preparation or planning either. And no need for snacks, for driving through Sonic for Happy Hour, or raiding the children’s ministry office for jellybeans.
Yes, all the extra time on my hands is helpful …
Think I’ll take a quick nap.