Fasting is one of those tough ones, where it can seem like pointless self-deprivation or suffering if you don't get the reason why to do it. I remember talking once with my non-member sister in law and was explaining Fast Sunday, and she quipped, "why do you call it that? It must be because everyone is so hungry, you want the meeting to go really fast so everyone can go home and eat." I have to admit this is not something that comes naturally to me or to our house; most Fast Sundays I literally hang a little sticky note on the fridge that says "Fast Sunday" to stop the early risers from forgetting and having that first bowl of cereal. I know families who really do a good job with opening and closing their fast with prayer and deliberation and intention so that it has a bounded, set-apart time and sacred quality. I wish I did better on that, but most of the time at our house its beginning and end are rather fuzzy and so probably, consequently its meaning and middle aren't as clear or spiritually nourishing as they could be.
With a 10-lesson unit on increasing in spirituality, it is definitely "Spirituality Summer" here in the middle of Manual 2! I love how these lessons build on each other and how they are substantive and delve into some of the fundamentals of our faith and practice. It's almost like Spiritual Boot Camp. Many of the topics covered in these lessons are the hard part of being a Christian disciple, the things that don't necessarily come easy, things that require sacrifice or hard work or discipline. At least two of the lessons have the word "strengthening" in the title. And I really feel that anyone who goes through this 10-week intensive course whether as teacher or learner, and who really commits to making real life changes over that period, will surely emerge with stronger spiritual muscles, so to speak, at the end of the summer.
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