On Giving Up Coffee in October
Coffee, an Aunt Katie Haiku:
Mmmm coffee. So warm.
iced, hot, pumpkined
Mmmm coffee. My reason for getting out of bed most mornings. Mmmm coffee. My love runs deep and wide. Mmmm coffee.
So why give it up? I wish I could tell you it was for a great noble purpose in the beginning, but it just sort of happened. After being in sick in bed a few weekends ago, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't had coffee in three days. Pushing past that period of severe-headaches from caffeine withdrawals, I was in the clear on the other side. If there were ever an opportunity to sacrifice my morning ritual, now was the time. So I bit the bullet, and made the commitment--no coffee in October.
Fasting gives birth to prophets and strengthens the powerful; fasting makes lawgivers wise. Fasting is a good safeguard for the soul, a steadfast companion for the body, a weapon for the valiant, and a gymnasium for athletes. Fasting repels temptations, anoints unto piety; it is the comrade of watchfulness and the artificer of chastity. In war it fights bravely, in peace it teaches stillness. – St. Basil the Great
We are a body/soul unity. Therefore it makes sense that the things we put or don't put in our body affect our soul, and vice versa. What happens in the physical realm of our lives is tied up in the spiritual, and vice versa. I love this quote from St. Basil the Great... it makes fasting sound so fun, joy-filled, and something to be desired. But you know what else is fun, joy-filled, and desirable? My morning coffee!!
Here are 3 things I've learned from my 17 days without coffee... And guess what! St. Basil the Great is right:
(1) Strength: I don't know that I would have considered myself "powerful" but I definitely feel stronger. It is amazing how the simple act of denying yourself something small can help you to deny yourself in the big things. I don't know about you, but I love to get my way. By saying no to small things or yes to small disciplines, we strengthen our will. Fasting becomes that true safeguard for the soul... it amazes me how things that were a temptation a month ago do not affect me in quite the same way. It's not 100%---have you tasted macaroni and cheese? There is no "Just Say No" to something temptations...
(2) Wisdom: Oh the clarity! It's amazing. And ironic. So ironic! I used to drink coffee to get some clarity, and now the removal of coffee has given me so much clarity... In other periods of my life when I have fasted successfully it is as if we are in the Matrix--but we actually see the Matrix. Decisions are oddly easier to make. And speaking of peace...
(3) Stillness: I have actually learned stillness. When you are a high-achieving aunt on the run, it is very hard to just stop. Your mind is always racing---are all of those plates I have to keep spinning, still spinning? Are those things I'm juggling, still juggled? We check our lists on lists, write new lists, make lists of lists we need to complete after this list. But fasting makes us stop. Something about the discipline allows you to actually clear your head. It's amazing. Spoiler Alert: You can pray without holding a cute mug of warm delicious coffee... I wasn't sure if that was true before this month.
I would imagine that many people stopped reading this post when they realized it was not a joke. No, I am not suggesting that you give up coffee--I'm quite sure this would reduce some of you to murderous acts, road rage, and lots of crying. But there is probably something small, that could provide you with similar discomfort or inconvenience. Perhaps it's giving up social media before Noon. Or your DVR for a week. Perhaps it's... wait for it... (no no no it's too difficult...) watching only 1 episode of Netflix at a time. The horror!
"Our human nature often asks for more than what it needs, and sometimes the devil helps so as to cause fear about the practice of penance and fasting...My health has been much better since I have ceased to look after my ease and comforts."
--St. Teresa of Avila
Thanks, T. Whatever it is we all have opportunities. These small sacrifices can change not only our own day, week, month, but we can use those fasts to pray for others. To offer up these small sacrifices for our own intentions or those of our loved ones.
Want more on Fasting? Here is a great post from The Catholic Gentleman.
The best part of waking up, is Jesus, not your cup,