Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The first time I fasted for Ash Wednesday, I was in high school. I think I was a sophomore, so I must have been 16. I know, I know, a few years late. We were on a three-day field trip, and my friends and I, realizing it would be difficult to get to church for ashes, decided to fast instead. I fasted most of the day, but had a presentation - we were at a competition - Wednesday evening, and I thought that combining nerves with hunger and passing out during our speech wouldn't be fair to my partner, so I had a salad for dinner. Just to keep my energy up. People asked, "I thought you were fasting?" Of course I was fasting, I said. One big meal and two small meals.

My Jewish friends laughed and laughed. One big meal and two small meals? That's not fasting! You want fasting? Try Yom Kippur!

And I decided they were pretty much right. I understand the need to keep your energy up and not pass out in the middle of whatever you're doing that day, but one big meal and two small meals? That's not fasting! That's just not snacking!

Ever since, I've leaned toward a stricter fast for Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I often try to eat nothing at all, but since Ash Wednesday falls on a Wednesday (duh!), and Wednesdays are when I go to Judo, I try to eat one small meal late in the day before going to the gym. Sometimes I skip Judo and go for a total fast, but weeks like this one - when I didn't make it to any of the other classes - I do a less than total fast, go to the gym, and cross my fingers that I won't pass out anyway.

Today I'll have a bowl of oatmeal just before I leave work. Oatmeal is pretty much going to be my sacrificial food this Lent. I don't hate it, but it's not something I hugely look forward to or anything. I'm giving up peanut butter, and since spending $7 on a nice sandwich at the deli across the street doesn't make sense, either financially or sacrificially, I think I'm going to be eating a lot of oatmeal over the next forty days. It's pretty much the only thing, other than peanut butter sandwiches, that's convenient enough to bring to work for lunch.

And as much as I don't usually look forward to oatmeal, it's right about lunch time, my stomach is growling, there are packets of oatmeal just inches away from my desk, and all of the sudden, oatmeal is very, very, tempting.

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