I'm not really a religious person. At times I could be considered a spiritual person, and there are moments when I do feel profoundly moved by the sights and sounds around me, convinced, at least, for a little while, that there is a higher power, and I'm very thankful it's here.
Organised religion, on the whole, and no matter what the denomination, makes me uneasy. I do like direction, but I don't like being told I'm a bad person unless I follow these sets rules exactly. When I was in college I used to attend Mass at St. John the Baptist, and at first I felt spiritually nourished by the experience. But by the 2nd month I realised that I was probably the only person taking the religion seriously. I was disturbed by the fact that people would show up in their pajamas, rubbing sleep out of their eyes, would stick around only to receive the Eucharist and then leave. There was a palpable sense of them shutting off their brains for a good 45 minutes and just letting the priest's voice echo mindlessly inside their skulls.
I, on the other hand, actually listened to the sermons and the readings. Some of them just seemed so absurd, and illogical, and cruel. Maybe if I had been to Sunday school as a child, I would understand. But I seem to remember, at 5 years old, that Jonah being swallowed by a whale seemed a rather draconian method to get him to co-operate. Maybe I missed the point.
In high school I went to mass with the local university students. There would only be about 15 in the congregation, so afterwards I would go up to the priest and ask him questions about things that didn't make sense to me. He would get visibly frustrated because he knew he was right, and that I should just accept that this is how it works. He even said to me, "you cannot just pick and choose what you believe in. You have to commit to the faith as a whole." That was probably the most illogical thing I ever heard.
Having said that, this Lenten season, as I try to do every Lenten season, I plan to fast.
This means for the next forty days and forty nights I cannot eat any meat, dairy, eggs, or sugar (though I'm already off to a rough start having eaten 2 slices of domino's pizza with cheese. Oh well).
I wouldn't say this is for any religious purposes, though I do think about Jesus and his struggle in the desert more often because of the fast. It's more to renew, and reexamine my relationship with food.
Once again, I am not an inspired cook. I'm an able cook, sure, but I definitely fall in the ruts of reaching for the spaghetti and sauce a few nights a week. I often seek eggs and meat sources to give me a power punch of protein, as well as iron. By eliminating those foods from my diet I have to really think about how I'm going to get my nutrients. I learn new recipes, some of which stick with me, some I decide I will never do again, and I loose weight.
It's difficult, don't get me wrong. Especially since I have people all around me telling me I'm crazy and misguided to attempt such a thing. Last time at week 2 I had a lot of energy, and was feeling very light and bouncy and healthy. By week 4 I was miserable and hungry. I went so far as to order a vegan rice pudding from one of my favourite restaurants. It tasted like cat vomit sprayed with strawberry air freshener.
I often feel conflicted, too, by what I should let slip through the cracks for nutritional value. Milk, for instance, a good source of vitamin D and calcium, plus sometimes a glass at bedtime knocks me right out for a peaceful sleep (which is my all-time, desert island, favourite thing), I also cannot fathom coffee without it. Cheese would also be handy for when I make black bean tacos, or veggie sandwiches. Greek yogurt helps aid in my digestion, and makes for a handy snack at lunch and dinner with some honey (which I'm allowed, because Jesus had access to honey in the desert). Eggs are also tricky. They make for a nutritious, delicious, and quick and easy breakfast for me most weekdays, filling me up until lunchtime and giving me lots of energy.
Really, I think breakfast is going to be the hardest meal of the day to get around. I don't fancy bowl after bowl of shredded wheat, or slice after slice of toast with bread and honey.
Anyway, Ash Wednesday starts with a dinner of shrimp marinated in lemon juice, garlic and honey with peas and rice.
I can do this.


  1. What does that make Sunday dinner?


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