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The Open Palm

Exploring the Ancient Spiritual Tool of Fasting


“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days….” Luke 4:1-2

One of the most ancient spiritual tools that is used across religions and cultures is fasting. Jesus himself used fasting as a way to prepare for his ministry, and his 40-day fast in the wilderness is the basis for the Christian season of Lent. The benefits of fasting range from mental clarity and physical healing to spiritual growth and are celebrated in the religious and scientific communities alike. Indeed, the Biblical tradition sees it as a key tool for shedding the old life and embracing a life of justice, charity, and joy. Yet, to our modern sensibilities, going without food or a beloved comfort (for non-food related fasts) can seem strange and “old-fashioned.” Why should we make ourselves miserable when life can already seem hard?

This workshop seeks to answer that very question. In our 5-part journey, we'll examine the biblical tradition of fasting and give you some modern tools to help you engage in this embodied prayer practice. Participants can expect to feel challenged with this oft-neglected topic but also supported and uplifted as we grow in our spirituality.

Topics include:

  • Exploring different kinds of fasts (including several ways to fast from food or non-food related fasts) & choosing the kind of fast that’s right for you

  • Native American fasting as a form of spiritual healing

  • Fasting’s role in the mystic path (with particular attention given to women mystics of the faith)

  • Biblical models of fasting

  • The scientific benefits of fasting

  • Building and living your fasting plan

  • Guided Meditations

  • Community discussions for support and fellowship

5 Live Classes on Zoom on Mondays in Lent from 10:00AM-11:00AM, February 19th - March 18th, 2024

Can't make it in-person? No problem! Replays will be posted to the course page in Membership within a few days of each session.

Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder. This class will involve conversations around food and emotions. This may be difficult for those who struggle with disordered eating. Please know this class will include options for NON-FOOD-related fasts and will be sensitive to these issues.

Praise for The Open Palm:

"I experienced my best Lent this year from what I learned during this class, especially how to be more open minded to experiencing the 40 days of Lent and the joy of fasting throughout the year." 

- Nancy

"The Open Palm Course was such a eye opening course on how positive I can 'do Lent'. The material presented was so diverse and interesting , I will be forever grateful. A quote that spoke to me 'The way you do anything is the way you do everything.'" 

- S. Schoenhut

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this course. This was my most powerful Lent experience. I have grown in a way that I'm better able to discern some things that were impacting on my spiritually prior to this. I also appreciate how things closed with St. Patrick's Breastplate, and ideas about following through on our own from there."

-T. Walsh

"I had a fantastic experience in this class, as always; it sure helped to reintroduce me to the ancient practice of fasting, in a way that was both gentle and passionate. Rev. Dr. Hillary's spiritual and psychological expertise were crucial in having as positive of an experience as I had. So grateful for this course, Hillary as our instructor and my fellow fasting comrades! : ) 

-Sincerely and in Christ, Rev. Kat Katsanis-Semel in NYC

Starts February 19th, 2024

Membership Community


The Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining

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Hillary currently serves as the first woman Rector of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Gladwyne, PA. She teaches both on The Hive as well as seminary classes and is a sought after retreat leader. As a writer, Raining has published in both academia and ecclesia. She is the author of Joy in Confession and co-author with Amy Dolan of Faith with a Twist. She holds a B.A. with honors in Religion and Psychology from Moravian College, a Masters of Divinity from Yale and the Institute of Sacred Music and is a graduate from Drew University with a Doctorate in Ministry. Raining is also a yoga teacher, bee keeper, and environmentalist.

To learn more about Hillary, visit her personal website here.

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