Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, programmer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

March 3, 2005

Jonesing for Coffee / 10th Baha'i Fast

Way back in 1994 I recognized that I was essentially already a Bahá'í, so sometime in the waning days of November I officially joined the Bahá'í community. The next spring I fasted for the first time — Bahá'ís over the age of 15 are expected to fast from sunup to sundown for 19 days (3/2 – 3/20) every year. Thus today is the second day of my tenth Fast. And I really miss my coffee.

I began drinking coffee in 2000 I think (while in grad school). Every year I’ve drunk just a little bit more, though at the same time my cola consumption has dropped dramatically. I typically max out at a good size cup of coffee in the morning and another (or a Mountain Dew or Diet Coke/Pepsi) in the afternoon. Yet each year I amazed at my ability to continue functioning throughout the Fast, usually with only one or two caffeinated drinks the whole time. No caffeine headaches! Only a little extra fatigue!

Agreeing with the stock set of Bahá'í principles was easy. As soon as I heard them I knew that I could be a Bahá'í, practically speaking. I was a student at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science that fall, where all my classes were college courses at the University of North Texas (near Dallas-Ft. Worth). Going to open discussions weekly, I spent my first few months pondering two questions: do I believe in a God who intervenes in the affairs of mankind? Do I believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the latest "manifestation" of God's intervention?

I was only drinking Coke back then, and RC Cola in the cafeteria at UNT. Couldn't stand coffee. Probably was doing only marginally without my afternoon jolt of caffeine even then.

You know the result: I declared my faith in Bahá'u'lláh. My answer was that yes, I believe in something that I'll grudgingly call God that, somehow, from time to time spouts forth renewed wisdom for mankind to follow. The beauty of Bahá'u'lláh's words, the sublimity of His system for the governance of the body temporal and the body spiritual, the depth of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's philosophical teachings — all these things convinced me that this was the religion for me. When I was a kid (well, 11 instead of 17) I used to tell people that it was against my religion to have a religion. But now I had one.

At some point in the last few years I discovered that not only does coffee keep me awake and alert, but it actually helps me focus on the task at hand. Tea is the same way, but I generally prefer coffee. Coke can work; but I tend to drink it too quickly. There is just something about sitting down with a cup of hot liquid (hot chocolate too) that gets me really focused on the task at hand. Is it a physical reaction? Or perhaps a psychological association I’ve built up over time?

I am still on a questioning path. My belief that the Bahá'í Faith offers the best system for guiding mankind has not waned, though my belief in God sometimes comes and goes. I’ll save that discussion for another day. But now my "lunch break" is nearly over, and I must get back to work (for work is worship). I don't have any coffee to focus me, but I’ll make it through somehow. Though I go back to the caffeine 19 days from now, I’ll be a better person for having been off it.

3 Comments

PS 'Jonesing' is defined by answers.com as "an addiction, especially to heroin." Not knowing any heroin addicts, I've always heard this word used in reference to tobacco. Either way, it is an exagerration of course =).

It's 6 am and I'm sipping my very large cup of hazelnut coffee and savoring my breakfast. This is my 17th fast, having started at the age of 15. It's always been a little daunting - usually just the week before. How will I just plain deal? So it's a little surprising that as long as I'm working, I'm not burdened. And I'm just a little bit more productive! Thanks for the post.

I've included your blog on my favorites bookmark list.

i cannot say i'm fully enjoying the fast, though i feel good in being disciplined...i've not cheated once so far and for me that is an accomplishment. I've somehow in the past justified to myself cheating or not getting with the spirit of the fast. I refuse to do that this year.

God Bless! Allah'u'abha!