As we are currently mired in the snowpendously undersnowhelming snowpocolypse (so far its been more of a sleetastic icetacular, to borrow some of the words tossed out of my FB status comments), hunkering down with emergency candles and a woefully understocked kitchen (at least in terms of foods that don’t require cooking), I happened to notice the calender. Holy Carp–just yesterday it was Yule, and now…we are already at Imbolc (or whatever you happen to call it, we prefer Candlemas). My daughter, ever so interested in the amount of time that the “Baby Sun King” is shining (if only to avoid bedtime) could have been the first to tell me that they days are getting longer, if I had thought to ask, instead of going day by day without any real reflection of my actions, or my surroundings. For someone that tries to find the Divine and sublime in everyday life, I’ve been slacking (its a perennial struggle, I’ll admit). And so, I have decided to re-implement the idea of giving something up for Lent.
If you think about what’s going on in the natural world, these food deprivations make sense. This part of early spring is the most hazardous time of the year for people living close to the earth. The first bitter greens (so prominent a part of spring equinox feasts like Passover and Easter) are just emerging. Fresh eggs, also associated with these feasts, are not yet available; birds are just beginning to nest. The foodstuffs, particularly the salted and smoked meat, that were stored to carry the family through the winter may be giving out. The potatoes and apples left in the cellar are getting soft and of dubious quality. The deprivation of Lent may not be voluntary but a necessity imposed by nature. As Caroline Walker Bynum points out in Holy Feast and Holy Fast, “Fasting is in rhythm with the seasons, scarcity followed by abundance.” By choosing lack, people believed they could induce God to send plenty: rain, harvest and life. As Gregory the Great said, “To fast is to offer God a tithe of the year.”
from the blog Living in Season
I have occasionally practiced the Lenten tradition of sacrifice–as a child raised in a Christian family, as a newbie Pagan teen showing solidarity with my mostly Catholic friends (besides, I love fish fry Friday), and for the purposes of fulfilling a bet over my addiction to trashy romance novels…but I’ve never meant it. But it seems to me, that just because I’m not Christian, and I don’t find any *truth* to the notion of Jesus as Christ, doesn’t mean that the notion of sacrifice, fasting and other tools can’t be used as a catalyst for change and for growth.
So, this year, from Candlemas (tomorrow morning) until Spring Equinox (or Ostara, if you prefer), as a vehicle for some positive change and growth, I am channeling Michael Pollan’s maxim “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” I am going vegetarian (with the exception of fish, eggs and yogurt) and at least 70% of my diet being raw foods, and giving up pasta and bread entirely. If you know me, you know this is a great sacrifice on my part. Despite having been a vegetarian for 8 years (about 8 years ago), I love bacon…and steak…and spaghetti…and macaroni and cheese…and ice cream ( I could keep going). I figure I’ll spend so much time figuring out what I *can* eat and how to prepare it, that I won’t miss what I *can’t* eat quite so much, but in case I am incorrect on that count, I have also (rediscovered at the same website above) decided to adopt a practice I had forgotten about (and a topic for another post).