30-day fast is a sign of support for U.S. soldiers, and of disgust with government's actions.
was feeling decadent.She
sipped seltzer water.
An invocation was in order.Dean, the minister at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Mill Creek, had been summoned to the Gold Ballroom of the Hotel du Pont to deliver a blessing April 1 at the 2006 Common Wealth Awards before consumption began.She
bubbly water and left before the arrival of Viennese desserts.
, a tall woman in her
mid-50s with an average build, delights in the communal nature of food.Her
invocation, though, fell on Day 13 of her
self-imposed 30-day fast.From March 20 through April 19, nothing would touch her
stomach but water.
The short answer to the obvious question -- why? -- is Iraq.Dean
decided to mark the third anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq with a demonstration against "what I see as an increasingly unethical administration," she
says."Because ethics is the foundation of my faith.It isn't something I take lightly."
At its March 19 service, she
quietly told her
congregation of her
did so after leading the segment called "Joys and Sorrows," during which people can share such thoughts before lighting a candle.Dean
spoke of her
respect for the American soldiers who have risked or lost their lives in Iraq.As a sign of support for them and of her
disgust with the government's handling of the war, she
would fast for 30 days.
Sunlight shot across the sanctuary as Dean
lit a candle.
first fasted as a college student in 1969, when she
spent a week without food to protest the war in Vietnam.And for at least the past 15 years, during annual spiritual retreats, she
has fasted for one to two weeks.
doctor tested her
is kept aware of her
progress, but Dean
own blood pressure every two to three days.She
drinks one to three quarts of water per day, sipping throughout.The first couple of days, she
The fog cleared by the fourth day.Fasting burns carbohydrates within a day, then moves on to muscles for protein and taps into fat reserves.
Although experts say fasting has not been proven to cleanse the body of toxins, Dean
and others who fast claim feelings of mental and spiritual clarity after going without food.
Meanwhile, Dean's usual daily allotment of four miles, walked fast, has become two miles, strolled.On Day 19, she
lost about 19 pounds, or about a pound a day.That's normal for her
returns to her
usual eating habits, she'll gain it back.
She'll do so slowly.Breaking a fast can be more troublesome than holding to one.Dean
learned that several years ago.Ten days into what was to have been a 14-day fast, she
prepared a turkey sandwich for her
husband.It found her
body, accustomed to the absence of food, needed time to readjust.
"Midnight of the 19th," Dean says, "I probably will be looking for a glass of tomato juice."
A 30-day fast, she
says, restricts her
for 60 days.And although the sight of food can stir her
feels no hunger in the presence of no food.
"When you have the discipline to turn away from food," she
says, "your body gets cleansed in a lot of ways, but your mind really gets clear, too.
...Dean, the hungry minister, has a son.He interrupted college to join the Air Force within weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Adam was among the crew on a cargo plane that transported people and equipment into Afghanistan and Iraq.He
safely returned in 2004 and went back to school.Her
nephew, a National Guard reservist, wasn't so lucky.A rocket-propelled grenade hit his
vehicle, severely injuring his
And so Dean fasts, "a tiny penance for the mistakes we are making in this war."Dean
doesn't claim that her
entire congregation feels the war is wrong.When she
lit the candle after announcing her
asked those present not to agree with her
but to keep her
in their thoughts.
No one approached her
with a negative comment.
People like Robertson can't help but think about her
sacrifice each time he
sits for a meal.
"It really makes me think about the world," he
says."What's going on.How people are affected, and how people aren't affected."
One week after her
invocation at Hotel du Pont, Dean
roasted a turkey and delivered a blessing at her
church's annual Fellowship Dinner.She
did not eat.
"Maybe for my own well-being I downplay the difficulty of it," she