School breaks for the Sukkot holiday in the fall, sometimes in September, sometimes October. The Hebrew Calendar works on a movable system. And that makes it seem new each year. The weather can be horribly hot or pleasantly cool. You never know what you’ll get.
Also, it’s a delicious respite from the heavy load of schedules and testing pupils. There’s no fear of authority figures in Government ministry jobs suddenly demanding something of me. They’re working half-days, no time for a small civilian like me.
It’s a true time for replenishing all sides and dimensions of the self.
So I had a choice to make.
There was a vipassana retreat during the break. Should I go and leave my mate and children in order to meditate with a sangha of others? A noble option. But, I wanted to be home. I wanted to wake up when I wished. I wanted to enjoy being in my own environment. Perhaps, I’d actually do work to prepare my puppetry workshop, get a literary piece ready to be taught. I wanted to study Tibetan Buddhist Meditation on Coursera and participate in the online Mindfulness Summit.
I wanted to flow. Choice made. I would stay home.I could study and prepare and meditate and take walks!
Decision to do our annual Grape Fast!
Gadi went to the kibbutz store, bought grapes and then he went on a further trek to buy more grapes. We would be eating only grapes and drinking water for how long? Five days or so.
It works like this: every 3 hours, we’d eat a portion of grapes, chewing the seeds well. If hungry, we’d snack on grapes. No problem. We drink water.
It’s a de-tox diet. Because of the nature of grape sugar, it doesn’t require effort by the liver to break it down. Hence, this respite allows the liver to detoxify.
Usually the first day, I’m ravenous. I was! I had a huge appetite in the morning and hunger levelled off in the evening.
That night, lying down, I noticed some weakness in my calves. It was strange to feel. I hadn’t done any unusual forms of exercise, just my usual routine and a usual walk of 6 kms or so. Nothing unusually strenuous. Was it the first sign of flu? To be seen…
My calves were so uncomfortable that I couldn’t find a sitting position to ease the feeling. And worse…the ache was slowly working its way up to my thighs. This was worrisome.
I felt tired. I didn’t feel like making puppets, though I tried. I didn’t feel like talking to people. I wondered if I had a fever. I tried to rest, but couldn’t seem to get comfortable.
Only walking really felt good.
I was a lot less hungry, but ate grapes, choosing between concord (super sweet), red (slightly less) and green (more watery). I also found that when I got up from sitting or lying down, I’d get dizzy. Hmmm, low blood pressure. Could this be cause I was un-caffeinated? In fact, what was going on?
How many toxins did I have in my body that were starting to make themselves heard?
Calves hurt. Thighs hurt. Pelvic bones hurt! What? Me? You must be kidding. And a slight fever! Was it just a little flu, unrelated to the grapes? In my heart, I didn’t think so.
Not having slept, I woke up confused. I did my usual routines, meditation and exercise and then went searching on the net for possible confirmation that I was simply feeling the side effects of the grape diet. Sure enough, there was mention of muscle pain and mild fever. Okay. That seemed to be in the right direction. But, on the other hand, what if all the calcium in my hips was breaking down and turning to powder? The non-caffeinated mind has no limits.
We continued to eat grapes. No real appetite but still we continued. We took our long walk. I felt fine walking. I guess my bones were still in place and functional. But I couldn’t sit, or lie down without discomfort. Gadi was fine. A short headache that passed quite quickly. A momentary twinge in his lower back, which soon was gone.
We suddenly got a visit from our son, just back from Canada. He was coming home for a visit. Gadi warned him that we didn’t have any food. We were grape-ing. The wheels of my mind began to turn. Hmmmmm.
Dare I stop the fast? That little thought attracted some inner smiles.
Ahl showed up. Gadi made him coffee. I got to smell it.
And a decision was made. I announced that I was seriously considering stopping the fast. Gadi was amazed. But we said we’d do it for 5 days at least! I told him he could continue but I wanted to stop. He told me that as a team, he’d stop too. We would go shopping. Pick up some vegetables and eat a real meal that night.
We did. Huge salad with Gadi’s incredible vinaigrette and his amazing vegetables.
I felt good. Pelvis felt fine. Legs felt much better. I slept.
The Day after, Gadi read to me: The results of a grape fast can only be felt after 3 days.
He went on: “Next time, we will continue. You’ll see that things will get better. This was a sign that you have toxins to expel.”
Ah, grapes. I guess it’s true. I’m toxinated! I drink coffee. I sometimes use a fake powder to lighten the coffee. I eat rice crackers.
Other than that, I’m pure as pure can be. I breathe the air – no choice there. I eat the vegetables that grow in our soil. There’s no real way to conquer that until our own vegetables sprout from our own soil, shielded from the spraying of the kibbutz gardener.
It’s amazing what physical pain does to the mind. It depresses. It makes life seem harsh.
When pain disappears, optimism returns. Everything is effortless or at least can be after a little meditation or reading a heart-warming story.
With pain, nothing seems to help. The will to be creative might be there, but it hurts to dredge it up.
Without pain, oops, it’s back! Or if it isn’t, it doesn’t matter. Look at that face. How wonderful. Or listen to that child’s voice! How miraculous.
Pain. How many people carry themselves painfully. How many people deal with a chronic suppression of all that’s joyful because of physical suffering?
Note to self: be kind to all. Perhaps they’re suffering and don’t realize how it’s affecting their outlook on life.
Grape Fast. I thank you.
Till the next time.