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25 February 2012 @ 05:41 am
Not So Fast  
So I was thinking that this year I should celebrate Lent. Wait. What's the verb for Lent? Observe. I should observe Lent. As holidays go, Easter is my favorite and my best. I expect fasting will deepen the Paschal joy, you know? I read a lot of Frederica Mathewes-Green, who's Orthodox, and Elizabeth Scalia (aka The Anchoress) and Betty Duffy, who are Catholic. I enjoy what they write, and am inspired by their observance of Lent. I'd love to try it, too.

So I Googled to find guidelines for Lenten fasting, and this is what I got:

From Canon Law

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence: Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

This really isn't so different from how I've understood how fasting's taught in the LDS faith.

Tempting as it is to linger over "unsound mind", I qualify for exemption under "nursing mother". Especially since I'm a nursing mother to a sick baby, and it seems like any kind of caloric deprivation, no matter how small, directly lowers my milk supply.

I need to find something else to fast or abstain from.

Dragoon walked in while I was brainstorming. We are ships passing in the night--he stays up until 4 am, shooting zombies; I get up at 4 am to be a nursing zombie--and I got his input, whether I liked it or not, on what I could fast from.


1. Chocolate. This one seems like an uninspired no-brainer until I thought about it, and realized just how much chocolate I EAT lately. It's, like, a daily indulgence. I mean, we're talking, like, one Hershey's Kiss here, but it IS every single day.

2. Sleep. I love it, I can't have it when I want it. But this is a condition common to motherhood, especially nursing motherhood. So it's not really very virtuous or special, is it?

3. Sushi. See #2....but that doesn't stop me from being sad about not having it.

4. Wearing the color blue. No, really. I am a homeschooling mother of 6. You have any idea how much denim is in my wardrobe? I seriously would have very little to wear. Dragoon perked up at that idea, but I honestly don't see how this could be helpful, unless I had some non-blue sackcloth to wear instead.

5. Resentment. I mentioned this one to Dragoon because I thought it was such a great idea. He's like, "Yeah, you could try that, but I bet you'd resent it. And recursive resentment is way worse than the regular kind."

I love the IDEA of abstaining from resentment but I have no idea how to go about that. It's pretty easy to know the procedure for abstaining from chocolate. You don't put it in your face.

But what am I feeding my face, emotionally speaking, that makes for resentment? It's a worthy question, but maybe not one I can answer with a fast at this moment.

6. Cussing. Does this even count? I mean, it's sort of something I should be abstaining from anyway. And I have to admit, sometimes...I don't really care enough about not swearing. I feel like I have bigger fish to fry, like the resentment issue, and possibly the sushi one. (get it? fish...?)

Speaking of fish, there's...

7. Fishing for compliments and reassurance. I think I've gotten better about this. No, actually I don't. I'm likely as bad as ever about this one. But excoriating myself about it would probably prompt some kind soul to reassure me that I'm not that bad.

You SEE how deep this kind of thing can go. It's like a Mandelbrot set of insecurity.

8. Plants vs. Zombies, Virtual Villagers, and other mental junk food.

9. Urban fantasy, though I read Patricia Briggs and Ilona Andrews' stuff only a couple times a year now. That's, like, the opposite of fasting.

10. Yelling at the dog. Thing is, he weighs more than most of my older kids combined. Most of him means well, except for his tail. Sometimes he NEEDS to be yelled at.

11. Yelling at my kids. Noble, but...realistic? Is there some way I could contract 40-day laryngitis? And does it count if I'm still making mad faces at them and mouthing "You are so going to get it"?

(Why is it that the funnest questions to ask are rhetorical?)

12. Non-classical music. It's hard to control what goes into my ears, though. This concept is drummed home to me every time Dragoon listens to Cascada. Sigh.

13. The Internet. But...but....but but but! But how will I stay in touch with other Lenten fasters? Observers. "Faster" probably isn't a word. And how will I shop? Or talk to my friends? Or....or...this is probably a really good one.

14. My contacts. I HATE my glasses. I think I might rather wear a hair shirt than my glasses. Having to wear them for 40 days would certainly drive me crazy, if that's the metric for a successful Lent.

Here's my question or issue or statement or idea or whatever, and it's probably unoriginal.

I prefer to look at things positively. Instead of focusing on what I can't have, I'd rather focus on something better to have instead.

But I honestly don't know how this plays out.

For instance, instead of thinking, "Arrrgh! No beef for 40 DAYS!" I can think, "Yay, time to eat beans and tuna fish."

Or instead of trying to eradicate a personal failing, I can concentrate on cultivating a personal strength. Like....like...what's the opposite of swearing? I can say nice things to people. Or try to speak more holy words. Or something.

Though if the holy words come out of the same mouth as all the other usual words, then I defile the holy ones...or something. Didn't Paul talk about this? Paul probably talked about this.

That's the problem. I feel convinced that I'm going to shy away from whatever is really good for me. Here I am, needing to cleanse the inner vessel, and I've got all these bottles of Inner Vessel Cleaner in front of me, and I'm reading the ingredients on the label, and discarding each one.

This one's too abrasive; this one's too reactive; this one can only be handled with gloves; this one doesn't have enough chocolate in, etc.

My instinct here is to want to be told what to fast from.

But is there some crucial spiritual component in choosing to inflict a fast upon myself, that would be missing from a fast in obedience to another's direction?

It crosses my mind that I could fast from over-thinking things.

But I can't even imagine how to enact that one. And I'm guessing I shouldn't think too much about it.
happyorganisthappyorganist on February 25th, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
whatever you do, don't give up writing
justblonde1justblonde1 on February 26th, 2012 05:16 am (UTC)