Today is the vigil before the Feast of Elijah the Prophet. Elijah is a big hero to us Carmelites. On Mount Carmel, Elijah proved the God of Israel was the one, true God by calling down fire from heaven to the astonishment of 400 + prophets of Baal. In the 12th Century, European pilgrims moved to Holy Land and established hermitages near the Spring of Elijah on Mount Carmel. These holy men wanted to live their life "fully in the presence of God" and grow in prayer like their beloved hero Elijah. The name "Carmelite" comes from the Order's original location on Mount Carmel.
So the Feast of Elijah is a big day for Carmelites. We're supposed to fast the day before the feast in order to prepare our hearts for greater prayer. On Sunday, I asked my group leader how pregnant Mamas were supposed to observe the fast. He said "I'd recommend that you don't fast at all." Another nursing mother consoled me that we could at least give up candy and sweets as a partial fast.
I felt sad. I learned about this pregnancy on January 1st. So in 2010, I'd already missed all the big fasting days in Lent. Now I'd have to opt out of another important Carmelite fast in July. I miss fasting. There is nothing like "feeling" focused and prayerful during a long, hard fast. (I probably couldn't have said that last year but there is something about pregnancy that highlights the ordinary things in life that I tend to take for granted.)
On the way home, I told my husband about my small sorrow. He reminded me that I had my 3 hour blood sugar screening scheduled for Monday.
I couldn't believe it! On an important Vigil Day, I had a medical reason to fast from food and drink for 12 hours while I got my blood drawn to screen for gestational diabetes.
I don't think there's ever been a pregnant woman who has been more happy to spend 3 hours in a lab getting her blood drawn with repeated needle sticks. Today, I spent all morning alone in the lab. (A rare moment of quiet). I read my Carmel homework. I prayed. I had an actual medical reason to fast on Elijah's vigil, just like all my Carmelite brothers and Sisters all around the world.
God is so good! He takes care of all the little details and makes the lives of his daughters truly happy.