Monday, February 23, 2009

Random Lenten Thought

We've been thinking about Lent in our household -- how to keep it in a mindful way.

To that end we've been talking about fasting to some degree -- at least changing our meal habits in a way that pushes us out of our comfort zones and helps us enter however briefly into the experience of the poor.

It's very easy, for foodies, to turn this into a kind of self-serving family Iron Chef exercise where we crack open the vegan cookbooks and wax creative in the kitchen: "Ah! This butternut squash soup is wonderful! We'll have to make it again!"

Is that really keeping a Lenten fast?

To me, sitting here this morning thinking about it, a better strategy may be to, a few times a week, eat the sort of food that poor people around here actually eat -- cheap carbs and expired-date canned goods of dubious origin from the local dollar store.

I saw a news report not too long ago where a working-poor mom talked about serving her children meals consisting of plain macaroni topped with ketchup. She herself often sat out these meals, to leave more food for the kids.


Verdugo said...

The third grade inner-city girl I tutor weekly has told me that they have either cold cereal or canned chicken noodle soup for dinner most nights. Some days she's too hungry at our tutoring sessions to concentrate, I've taken to bringing a substantial snack to eat before we start work together.

She spends a lot of time worrying about where/when her single mom will be able to find work. It's sad to see a 9 year old so preoccupied with such adult matters.

Kristin said...

I like your idea of eating the way that American poor people eat. It's very different from the way I usually think about fasting.

When I was an earnest college student, I fasted one day a week in solidarity with the world's poor. I limited myself to eating just rice on my fast day, since so much of the world exists/subsists on a single bowl of rice or some other grain that grows in the region.

I've been blogging about Lenten spiritual disciplines at my blog,, and I wrote a whole entry about fasting.

Tom in Ontario said...

I know a pastor who fasts for 10 days during Lent. I mean really fasts as in "doesn't eat." He schedules the 10 days so they don't coincide with church or family functions that might include food, but his 10 days are broken up into, first, a single day, then at another time 2 days, then 3 days, then 4 days, all at some time during Lent. He's a stronger man than I am. I usually choose a fast that benefits me health-wise. So I think this year I'll cut out chips. I can sit in front of the TV and eat a large bag of Doritos or Ringolos or Sun Chips at a single sitting. It's got to stop. I've been cutting back lately. I think today it's cold turkey.