Ashes and fasting

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Lent will last for 40 days. During that time, I will abstain from meat on Fridays.  That’s not really much of a sacrifice for me.

But today was a day of fasting and abstinence.  That means two small meals and one regular meal, and nothing else to eat all day.  And no meat.

That sort of a fast should not be a big deal, and because most years it isn’t, I upped the ante this year.  No breakfast.  I went to Mass, received my ashes, and came home.

Which, as it turns out, is tough for me, as I am a breakfast person.  I started watching the clock at 10:30, and let myself have lunch at noon sharp.  A simple lunch, just bread and cheese.

By three, I was watching the clock.  I was hungry and out of sorts.  And cranky.  Of course, I had the grandkids here after school.  And all the Girl Scout cookies arrived.  Kids don’t have to fast, of course.  So they had an afterschool snack, cookies and milk.

Hunger makes my sense of smell very sharp, and those cookies smelled great. It also tends to make me short tempered.

I’m proud to say I got through my day of fasting without blowing my temper.  But Robin Hobb’s assistant and I finally agreed on one thing.  Being hungry is not that big a deal. Being hungry with kids around is really difficult to deal with.

And this was just a little five or six hours hungry, with the knowledge that there is lots of food in my house, and that tomorrow I will get up and have breakfast.  And that none of my kids were going hungry.

So, how does a mom living in poverty do this? How do you feel that hungry, all the time, and still manage to be a loving, attentive mom?  When the food does come how does she resist gobbling down more than her share? I can’t even imagine the pain of knowing that my kids were as hungry as I am, and the despair of  not being able to do anything about it.

So.  Lenten promises.  Some people give things up.  Some people do things.  I like a combination of both.  I’m daring myself to stay out of coffee shops for 40 days. Think I can make that? 

On the doing thing, each of my grand daughters wants to contribute one item of food for each of the 40 days to a food bank.  And they want it to be foods they like themselves.  I like that idea, so I’ll be putting a food item for them to donate in each backpack every morning.

And I think JRS will get my charity donation for March.

I am very, very blessed.  I hope I never lose sight of that.

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  • katogden says:

    I bought a cookbook based on the Little House books and I remember reading in it that her descriptions of food in FARMER BOY were born in part of the extreme periods of low calorie, low variety subsistence eating she experienced in her own childhood. The food descriptions in FARMER BOY are especially detailed.

    So take that equation from yesterday, add cold and hard labour to it and I can’t imagine that anyone would have been left standing. I read on that I use an average of 2000 plus calories just running up and down the office steps and because I walk to work sometimes. Imagine what farm work adds to that. Or (I shudder to think of this) the intense, primal hunger one experiences when you’re nursing a child?

    Chilling to really think about.