The glory of this cleanse thingy has definitely worn off. In fact, in moments, I feel like I am fasting for Ramadan. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with fasting for Ramadan. In fact, I think it’s quite admirable. But I am not sure I have the strength to keep fasting. I suppose, however, if Elizabeth Warren persisted, then by-golly, I will too.
Another perspective that’s just as real and true is that I am feeling stronger and more radiant than under normal circumstances. I have moments wherein I catch myself in the mirror, and I am shocked to see the youthful glow and slightly sunken cheeks. Cutting out sugar of any kind, dairy, and gluten can do that for a girl (or someone of any gender).
But in the past few days, more often than not I have felt stripped down to bare rawness. My patience is running thin with everyone I love. My running practice is dragging in the mud. If cleansing is anything like a true fast, then the path to enlightenment is bitter-tasting.
Krista Bremer, a recent favorite of mine, writes about this in her award-winning essay, “My Accidental Jihad,” from The Sun magazine. (She scored a memoir that is loosely based on her essay, too, and it’s wonderful.) In the essay, Krista describes her Muslim husband’s annual fast during Ramadan and her own experiences during these time periods. One of the surprising facts she mentions is that Ramadan is not nearly as marvelous a time as she imagined it would be. Instead of coming home to her husband sitting in lotus pose with flowers tucked behind his ears and the house smelling of sweet incense, she comes home to a man who is at his wit’s end, to someone who has little patience and energy. To someone whose breath is so foul, she turns away from him in bed at night.
Enlightenment is anything but pretty or serene. The actual work is anything but. This holds true for any endeavor requiring endurance, whether it be running a marathon, writing an essay, planting a garden, building a career or a marriage….. In fact, the path seems to require the dirtiest work imaginable. It requires bareness, rawness, and perhaps weeks of bad breath. It sometimes requires going without sugar in your coffee and cheese on your burger, too.
I promise to expand upon this post another time this week, but for now, the following quote by Kahlil Gibran, from The Prophet, seems a fitting way to end: “The same lute that soothes your spirit was hollowed by knives.”