Fasting In Solidarity   Leave a comment

It’s that time of year again, Lent, the time for 40 days of fasting. Fasting means many things, and of course includes eating less especially on Fridays. But not being someone who is keen on doing something just because “I’m supposed to”, “it’s tradition”, or because I’m told to, I’ve struggled some with the Friday fasting/abstinence. As a kid I really looked forward to being old enough to participate in these rituals. As a conscious adult my attempts at fasting usually fell flat, though, in large part because there’s no real impetus, no reason. Then I met my husband who absolutely disdains the practice of abstaining from meat as a holdover from medieval days when that practice was supposedly instituted on the peasants (but not necessarily the nobility or those who could give a contribution to the church). In any case, I had never encountered a good reason for the practice of abstaining from meat. I understand the spiritual tradition of fasting, and while in part I can buy in, when I’m hungry, shaky, and grumpy fasting doesn’t seem like such a good spiritual practice. Then several years ago when doing JustFaith, I first heard the proposition to fast in solidarity with the poor around the world. I immediately latched onto that, it made so much sense and really just felt like the right thing to do!

So back in 2007 I decided that fasting in solidarity with the poor would be a Lenten practice of mine. Yeah. It’s 2012 now and I still haven’t figured out exactly what that means. For the first few years I just interpreted it as small simple meals (no fancy ingredients and no/limited expensive animal products), with no high-calorie processed snacks in between. That’s fine, but it doesn’t involve doing anything different from normal, and for the last few years I’ve been restless. Normal for us is vegetarian stir fry, rice and beans, meatless dinner salads, basic pasta, potato/onion/egg, etc. Mostly simple meals. Last year I discovered that Catholic Relief Services includes recipes from various third world countries in their Operation Rice Bowl packet, and I thought that would be a better way to make this a specific practice. But I got lazy and didn’t go hunting for recipes. This year I went to the CRS website to get the recipes and discovered that several of them are dishes I can’t cook right now in season. Tomatoes and bell peppers may be in season in the global south right now, but not in the global north. And I don’t see how eating produce shipped from the other side of the world is solidarity with people who don’t have that luxury. I’ll stick with this theory of simple meals on Fridays in Lent, but just acknowledge that it still feels somewhat hollow of a commitment.

I’m back to the idea of fasting as reduced quantity of food, in solidarity with people around the world who cannot afford multiple filling meals each day. So far I’m 0-for-3 on eating fewer than three meals, but at least they are small not-filling meals. Unfortunately, that is also normal for me as I usually eat to no-longer-hungry as opposed to eating until full. And again, I have no self discipline and tend to give in and eat something when my stomach growls at me and my legs feel shaky. How Muslims get through Ramadan is beyond me! I’ve been trying to get down to 2 meals this year, and I’ll keep trying. Since this is a spiritual practice it is the thought, thoughts, prayers, and intentions that count, right?

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Posted March 2, 2012 by mayakey in spiritual practices

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