Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On Lent

One of the most anticipated parts of the year in our house is Lent. Being Eastern Orthodox our Lenten fast is rather strict with the dietary guidelines demanding no meat, dairy, oil or wine for the duration. There are a few days where the fast is not as strict and fish is allowed or wine. Every year I get excited when Meatfare week arrives and it is hard to eat the meat that we have on hand because I am so tired of meat, then there is Cheesefare week where we eat all the dairy in the house, then the fast begins in earnest, and Clean Monday happens.  Some hold to the tradition of not eating on Clean Monday, and some don't eat for the first three days of Lent (or so I have heard) this I have never done because I forget to not eat.  

The first couple of days my dedication to the fast is strong- but then thoughts of rare juicy steaks invade my thoughts during the day, and I notice how many commercials on the TV or in ads advertise restaurants with meat filled meals.

This where the other elements of fast and the WHY need to come into play.  Part of the fast is to increase prayer...something that literally takes minutes but is so hard. Also, the Lenten fast is to enable us to feel hunger and struggle with our body in its desires.  The struggle and hunger enable us to understand just a little better what the poor and hungry experience and to line up our human experience with theirs.
I came upon this quote tonight and found it to be helpful in keeping my perspective (after seeing 100 commercials for steak while watching The Middle)
For now, it seems that some fasting is the best way to remind myself of the millions who are hungry and to purify my heart and mind for a decision that does not exclude them. - Fr. Henri Nowen
I need this reminder. It is too easy to forget in our comfortable lives that people are starving and dying out there. My heart needs purification and softening towards those in need.  Lent serves to fix these things and adjust perspective and passions in order to be able to move past our inherent selfishness and sinfulness to serve and give and understand.  

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